Do you happen to be a chronic excuse maker? Maybe this video will inspire you to change…
Question: What are some of your big buts?
Do you happen to be a chronic excuse maker? Maybe this video will inspire you to change…
Question: What are some of your big buts?
How many of you know someone who is so outspoken that they declare their opinion before their brain understands what’s going on? I’m sure we all know at least one person…Or maybe that someone is you!? Being “outspoken” is one of the many characteristics used to describe Peter.
On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
…Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!”
Peter is one of my heroes. I am so grateful that God used him, his strengths, and weaknesses to be an example for us. Here in the above passage, Peter shouts out the right answer without hesitation. With his emotions running high, he basically tells Jesus “I will never desert you, no matter what the others do”. Since then, thousands of Christians have said those same words at youth retreats, revivals, worship conferences, and the like.
But we know what happens in act two don’t we. Peter does in fact deny Christ three times before the rooster crows, just as Jesus said he would (Luke 22:54-62).
So many of us boldly make decisions to get our act together and follow Jesus during, what I call, the Mountain Top Experience. These are times of extreme emotional highs. We stand boldly in front of others and raise our hands declaring that we will do whatever it takes to live the Christian life; to follow Christ’s example.
But somewhere along the way, life happens. We leave the mountain top and enter the valley; day to day life. The warm fuzzies fade off and it’s back to the old “Christian” routine, which translates in to little to no time for God. Does this describe you?
The silver lining on the cloud is that Peter’s story does not end in act two, with his denial of Christ, there is an act three (for all you screenplay buffs). The rest of Peter’s life is filled with faith and dedication to Christ. After Jesus’ Resurrection, Peter was the first person to preach publicly about Christ (See Acts Chapter 2). Peter was one of the boldest apostles of all, and was a key instrument in founding the church.
The mountain top experience is always followed by the valley. But how can we make the descent successfully? We don’t have to fall away from Christ. You have probably heard this more times than you can count, but Jesus came to break down the barriers of religion and blew open the doors for a relationship. Maintaining a vibrant faith takes work…and by work I mean time, time with God. Imagine being married to someone you didn’t speak to, or never spent time with? I’ll tell you right now, that marriage will dry up. The same is true with our “marriage” with God. This relationship needs time. When we leave the emotional high of the mountain top experience, we need to press in and take hold of, and spend daily time with Christ.
If you are the culprit of a dried up relationship with Christ, you still have today to make it right. I warn you, it will take resolve. Here are my three tips on how to successfully descend the mountain top experience:
I know, I know. You have heard this a thousand times. But how can we expect to be close to God if we don’t read the letters he has written us. Imagine if you couldn’t see your spouse for a significant amount of time, and the only way for your spouse to communicate with you was by writing you letters…wouldn’t you read them? I expect you would do more than just read them too. I believe you would keep them with you, and read over them continually to remind yourself of them and their love for you. The same is true with God.
So I digress, pick a time in your schedule and begin reading the bible, and stick with it! Maybe give your first 15 minutes to God. 10 minutes for reading the Bible, and 5 minutes for praying.
That leads me right into my next tip…
This is another you may have anticipated. If the Bible is like a letter from God, prayer is a phone call. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray continually”. This isn’t your stereotypical religious prayer where you get on your knees, clasp your hands together, bow your head and close your eyes (not that we shouldn’t ever do that). This is an open line of communication with God, all day. This is taking God with you wherever your day brings you.
You may be thinking, “Colton, I already go to church!”…But I’m not talking about attending church 50% of Sundays…or even 100% of Sundays, I’m talking about joining with it; a partnership. Get plugged in. Join a small group of people there where you can connect and build relationships that will help hold you accountable. Find a way to serve. Transition from a consumer to a contributor.
Let us make bold statements of faith like Peter, but when we leave the mountain top experience, let us put real time into our relationship with God, and follow through. These 3 tips are simply scratching the surface of maintaining an intimate relationship with God while descending the mountain top experience, and simply doing them to make a check on your checklist will not accomplish much. But if you do them with sincerity and commitment, I believe you will be on the right track.
Do you have any tips on how to successfully descend the mountain top? Share your highs and lows with us below.
If you live in the united states, our culture could be described in one word; “Consumerism”. You cannot drive less than 5 minutes before you get bombarded with the call to “consume“. In fact, many of us can’t leave our own home without seeing a barrage of ads telling us we need something.
Almost everything that is made to be seen or heard are filled with advertisements conveying a message of “you need this”. Pay attention the rest of your day and you will see it; the post in the mail, any magazine,almost any radio show and anything on television.
When we are told something over and over and over again, it begins to transform our thinking and we begin to believe it. And when we believe it, we consume. In fact, we consume so much that a second word almost always ensues; Debt.
In fact, debt has infiltrated our mindset so much that we seem to believe it’s as much of an individual reality as someone needing oxygen to breathe.
Consumerism capitalizes on the fact that we actually do need things. It is not wrong for businesses to market themselves or their products towards us. The problem is that we can’t wait for it. We don’t save for it. Instead, we get it now. We come up with up with words like “credit” or “finance” to dull the sting of debt.
Well here are two verses for you from Proverbs 22:
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.
We have been taught from a young age that debt is a way of life. We live beyond our means, then we become a slave to the lender. As Americans, we earn substantially more than most people in others countries…but we spend it all…and then some. Because of this, we live in a constant state of instability, insecurity and fear. It is no surprise then that finances happen to be one of the leading causes for divorce.
Here is another verse for you:
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
If you are a Christian, I am calling you out right now. We are the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden (see Matthew 5:13-16)…we have to be different. Every aspect of our lives need to point to Christ. How we handle our finances is no exception. We need to actually handle money the way the Bible tells us we should handle it.
Romans 12:2a says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.“
We need to change our behavior. We have to renew our mind.
Maybe you have heard of Financial Peace University. It is a biblically based curriculum that teaches people how to handle money God’s ways. My wife and I have gone through FPU a twice now. It has given us a unified purpose with our finances that goes beyond consumerism. FPU has helped more than 2 million families change their lives. I strongly encourage EVERYONE (yes, even you; the person who handles money just fine.) to go through the curriculum.
Handling money God’s way doesn’t mean we keep nothing for ourselves or our family. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Proverbs 13:22a says “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children…” and 1 Timothy 5:8 says “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.“
One local hero that I really look up to here in northern California is Larry Dahl. He is the founder of the drive through oil change company “Oilstop” and the car wash division “Wash2Go“. He founded his company with a philosophy directly from scripture; “We will serve people with excellence, humbly, with a servant’s heart.” Larry has found tremendous success handling business God’s ways.
Ultimately, we as Christians need to break out of the consumer mindset. We need turn to scripture to get instructions on all areas of our lives, including business and finances. We need to get out of debt so we no longer live in bondage, but free in order to do the work of Christ.
Remember the wonders he has performed. —1 Chronicles 16:12
About a month before getting engaged to my beautiful wife, I had just moved into my first apartment. When looking ahead at the money we would need to put aside for a wedding and honeymoon within the next year, and comparing it to the money we coming in, I felt like we could barely pay for the wedding, let alone the honeymoon to follow…but we were going to pray for a miracle.
Within just a few days of fervent prayer, I received a promotion at my current job…but God didn’t stop there. Just days later I was also contacted out of the blue by an old acquaintance to start working with him a few hours Saturday mornings. This would be working off of my own computer in my own home, using my graphic and web design abilities.
Within a few weeks I had already saved enough for our honeymoon in its entirety. And this just with the work I did Saturday mornings. Needless to say, I knew it was a miracle! Here was a mighty God caring enough for a soon to be newlywed couple to provide all they would need. And he hasn’t stopped.
When I think of the wonders he has done in my life, I am always reminded of that first Christmas night, when a mighty, all-knowing, all-powerful God wrote His name on the heart of humanity, stunning us with the generosity of forgiveness and the joy of unconditional love. The birth of Christ is the answer to our most fervent prayers for love and forgiveness. From the manger to Calvary, the life of Christ is the greatest wonder of ALL.
A wonder-filled life is ours when we know the Christ of Christmas.
Have you noticed how different the earth looks from a plane window? When we are on the earth without high ground, the surface of the earth curves out of our sight after several miles. But when we are in a plane, or on a mountain, we can see much more. In fact, on a clear night, from a mountain, we can see a candle flicker up to 30 miles away. It’s times like these that really put life into perspective. Studying Church History, for me, was like taking a plane ride over the expanse of time.
Like James 4:14 says, we certainly are like a vapor that vanishes in a moment’s time. We need to trust God with the big picture, because it is much bigger than we can see.
Recently, I have been studying Church history, and it gives us so many encouraging examples of faithful people who listened to, and followed God’s direction, even if they couldn’t see any of the harvest (or the “Big Picture”). People like Adoniram Judson for example; a man who worked as a missionary in Burma during the end of the 19th century. It took Judson 7 years before he won his first convert. Yes, 7 years. To be honest, if I were Judson, I probably would have given up after 7 months. He couldn’t see the big picture, but trusted in a God who does. Later, the seed Judson sowed reaped a harvest so great that thousands of people, from a tribe called the Karen, accepted Christ. At the end of the 20th century, there were more than 100,000 Karen believers. Talk about being faithful to God, even when your work seems futile.
Studying the history of the church and learning about people like Judson, and many others makes it obvious to me; life is about serving God faithfully, no matter what fruit we can or cannot see. We could be a reaping harvest, sowing the seed, or even just removing the rocks, but as the missionary Robert Bruce said: “let it be maintained with comprehension, love, and fervent prayer.” (Neill 1965:311)
We need to apply this right now in our daily lives. Be careful to listen to, and follow God’s direction for us, and remain faithful as long as God is calling you to it…For who knows what God will do with our work of faith tomorrow, next year, or even next century. For God’s plans are much bigger than we can see.
In God’s Love & Grace,
When you were a child, were you ever told to do something, and you didn’t fully understand why? Like buckling your seat belt, taking medicine, or going to bed on time? The truth is, your parents understood the reasons for each of these things you needed to do, and they told you to do them for YOUR benefit, and you can see that now. I believe it is the same with every command God has given us. Take the following scripture in 1 John:
Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:5-9 NET
It is clear in this passage that God is telling us to walk in the light. This includes confessing our sins and not burying them. This is honestly for our long term benefit and to those around us. Even if we don’t fully understand, we need to trust God in that it will be for our good! Because God is Light, we MUST walk in the light too. Confess your sins to God today, and open up to a mentor about it to (See James 5:16).
In God’s Hope and Love,
The past few months I have been studying church history in my theology college. This past week we have been learning about the 18th and 19th centuries. Out of the amazing people that we learned about this week, I would have to say Robert Morrison was one of the men that stood out to me most. This week I couldn’t get the thought out of my head; “After seven years of labor, he baptized his first convert.”
Robert Morrison (1732-1834) was the first Christian Protestant missionary in China. One of his most famous quotes was when he was en route to China; the owner of the boat on which the young missionary was traveling sarcastically said:”And so, Mr. Morrison, you really expect to make an impression on the idolatry of the great Chinese Empire?” “No, sir,” Morrison replied, “but I expect God will.” (Tucker 1983:167)
Morrison dedicated himself to an in-depth study of the Chinese culture and language. Since the interior of the country was closed to missionaries during his time, Morrison mainly worked in the production of Christian literature. After seven years of labor, he baptized his first convert. That’s right, SEVEN years.
The most monumental work of his twenty-seven years of service in China was the translation of the Bible into Wali, the ancient language of China.
In the small amount of information we learned about Morrison in our book, it was evident that Morrison expected to be used by God in the big picture. He was one of the few pioneers on learning the culture of a people as a means to witness to them. His understanding of the Chinese culture, and his translation of the Bible into Chinese were the building blocks of the now ever growing Church in China.
When I think about Morrison, he is greatly inspirational to me; life isn’t about numbers, figures, or being a “success”…it’s about doing what God made us to do…it’s about the big picture. Whether we are planting a seed, reaping the field, or even just removing the rocks; we need to make life about God and his plans. The picture of life is so much larger than we can ever see. Church, and the Gospel, are not about having an amazing service, or the most people in attendance…it’s about saving that one soul that God loved enough to send his only Son to die for in their place…
Let us learn from Morrison as an example that we can be pioneers for God. It isn’t about the “success” we may or may not see in our lifetime, but the big picture. Let us live to do what God has made us for.
In God’s love and grace,
Here is one of my newest covers I posted. It is one of my absolute all time favorites; The Heart of Worship, by Matt Redman. Check it out! I hope you enjoy!
For a limited time, we have been able to make available a Crosswalk T-Shirt! Be 1 of at least 100 people to reserve them and you will get these shirts made, and all profits will go into support for LivingForJesus.com and into making more T-Shirts like the one in the link below!
Don’t pass up on this shirt as it is only available until June 1st! Reserve it today at teespring.com/l4j-shirts
Spread the word on Facebook or Twitter!
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mom’s out there! I spent quite some time looking at all the different cards this weekend. Now, is it just me, or do you always end up picking the first good card you read, even after looking another 10 minutes!?
Anyways, there are so many things we can learn from mom’s, and in the theme of mothers, let’s learn from one in the book of Luke. Let me share a short verse:
“I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled.” – Luke 1:38
Do you happen to know who had this response to God’s call on her? It was Mary! Earlier in Luke Chapter 1, Mary was just told by an angel of the Lord that she would be the mother of Jesus, the Messiah, even though she was a virgin. How intimidating would that be? I would be like, “Slow down. First of all, I’m a virgin, it isn’t physically possible! Secondly, even if God did make it happen, what will the world think since I am unmarried!? You have got the wrong person!!”. But no, “I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled” was her response.
Yes, she had questions. And yes, she was probably scared of what might happen. But she responded with faith in God and the heart of a servant. She didn’t know how it would happen, or what the world would think of her, but set her eye’s on the Lord and basically said “Lead and I will follow”. How will you respond to God when He calls you? Will you say “You’ve got the wrong person” or will you respond “I am Your servant, may your word to me be fulfilled?”. Let’s make it the latter.
In God’s Love,
Copyright © 2015 Living For Jesus