Do you take the Great Commission personally?

In Acts chapter 7, Stephen is dragged before the Sanhedrin and demanded to explain his beliefs. What follows is a sweeping history of the people of Israel, culminating in their handing over Jesus to be crucified.

That didn’t go over so well, so he was dragged out of the city and stoned, becoming the first Christian martyr. His death sparked fierce persecution, largely from the efforts of a young man named Saul. This persecution was so intense that we’re told in Acts 8:1 that, “they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.”

Except the Apostles…

But at the end of that verse, we see an interesting anecdote. It says they were all scattered “except the apostles.”

What could that mean? Continue reading “Do you take the Great Commission personally?”

Busyness is not the problem

Sometimes it feels like we’re overwhelmed because we’re busy. But there’s usually something more going on.

This is good:

Though I would never admit it, it’s almost as if I want to streamline and organize and simplify my life to a point where I no longer need God to get me through my day. But my strengths and abilities will fail, again and again. I need a Savior every day.

Perhaps feeling overwhelmed and inadequate isn’t such a bad thing if that is what brings me to my knees and shatters my false sense of security. To the place where I realize my planning and intelligence and coping mechanisms mean absolutely nothing if I’m not becoming more and more like Christ and resting in the strength and presence of my creator, the author of my day. More of him and way, way less of me.

Read the rest here.

Why do some people never mature in their faith?

Spiritual maturity happens over time. That’s why most metaphors for spiritual growth in the Bible are gardening metaphors.

And it follows that some people will mature at different rates than others. Some are self-learners and will seek out resources and read and grow at a much faster pace than someone who is less inclined to do so.

But there are still plenty of people who don’t seem to mature spiritually over time. Their lives look no different than their neighbors’ and coworkers’ lives. They’re not getting more generous. They’re not growing in holiness. They’re not praying or reading their Bible.

Why is that? Continue reading “Why do some people never mature in their faith?”

Be doers of the Word

This is a message delivered to group leaders based on James 1:19-27.

I’ve noticed something as I’ve talked to group leaders over the last 12 months or so that I didn’t expect. Many of you, many of us and many of the people in our groups, have this nagging sense that we’re not doing something right. That something’s off.

You meet every week with your group, but it seems like you just do study after study and talk about the same issues over and over again. You’re not sure why it bothers you now when it didn’t before, but you’re scared to bring it up because you think no one feels the same way.

As I’ve leaned in closer to understand more about what they’re feeling, I’ve come to think it’s actually something many of us are feeling as Christ followers, not just as group leaders. It’s more fundamental to our identity as Christians than our role as leaders.

But it’s not something most of us want to raise our hand and talk about, because we feel like admitting it means we’re somehow lower down the spirituality ladder. Since most of you who might feel that sense that something’s off, let me break the ice and just say it:

Many of us are not finding fulfillment in our walks with God.

We’re not sensing His Spirit, we’re not feeling His presence, we’re not more joyful than last year, we’re not loving our families better.

We’re not sure why; we just know that’s how we feel.

But like any good group leader, we think the answer’s just one more curriculum, one more book, one more Bible study away. We think that if we can just hear the right thing, listen to one more thing, that maybe it’ll get us over the hump and we’ll experience deeper spirituality.

I’ve thought a lot about this. I’ve experienced this.

Over a period of about 12 months, God revealed to me what the problem was in my life, and I believe it’s the same problem many of you might be wrestling with today. Continue reading “Be doers of the Word”