Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday Sermon Notes 1/29/2012

This past Sunday's sermon continued the series we are currently studying titled "In His Image" and is the fifth sermon in the series.  The sermon was titled "Like Jesus in our Witness" and was given by Dr. Bill Brewer.  Just like last Sunday, this sermon was one that not only made me think about my relationship to those in the world who are lost, but it was one that convicted me as well.  Here are my notes from his sermon.  I pray that they are of use to you.

The sermon covered two different passages: Matthew 9: 35-38 and John 4: 1-42 but before Dr. Brewer dove into the passages, he made the following observations:

He reminded us of what Jesus said in Matthew  5: 13-14
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
(Mat 5:13-14)
For salt to be used, it must first be taken out of the container.  It must go out into the world.  In other words, you have to get out of your little area and go out into the world.  One of the quotes Dr. Brewer used really stuck with me, and does even now.  There is no impact without contact!  Then he said something else that really hit home.  Most Christians, after two years  after surrendering to Christ really do not have non Christian friends.

Now think about that and then take a look at your own life as I did with mine.  Don't think about acquaintances, or co-workers, but friends you spend your time with, doing things together.  How many do you have?  Now, how do you view them?  Read on to see how we need to see them.

Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He *said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."
(Mat 9:35-38)
 At the very beginning of Jesus' ministry was having a tremendous impact among the people.  People were bringing the sick, the demon possessed, the blind, lame, leprous, you name it and they brought it.  Here was no exception.  Jesus did not ignore the people, and as they came to him, surrounded him, he did something not many others did.  Jesus cared for them.  And the people knew it.

One of the first things Dr. Brewer showed us was how Jesus felt about the people.  He had compassion for them.  Now the word compassion in Greek has three meanings.  It means:
      1. To show kindness
      2. To have symphony
      3. (the most intense) To enter into a distress of another to help alleviate their pain.
In Mat 5: 35, the compassion Jesus had for the people was that intense feeling, the feeling you have in the pit of your stomach that makes you hurt for them, to want to do whatever you can to help them in their misery and pain.  Jesus looked at the people around him as lost and wandering, looking for a way out, looking for someone to lead them.  Now think about this: Do you know anyone who is discouraged, or distressed, or depressive, someone who is fighting for, trying to find help?

I do.  And it's more than just the prisoners I go to with Bill Glass' Prison Ministry.

So here's another question.  When you do see people like this, what do you do?  Do you feel sorry for them and then move on to your next thing in life, walking away?  Maybe you utter a small prayer for them, asking God to bless them, to take care of them.

That's what I do a lot of times.  Much to my shame.

There is no contact without compassion.

In verse 37 Jesus makes a challenge to His disciples.  Jesus moves from the metaphor of sheep to one of a harvest.  As Jesus is looking out at the people, He tells His disciples that the harvest of souls is great but the workers are few.    Dr. Brewer had this to say about this: "The greatest need is NOT the conviction of sin in a sinner BUT compassion for sinners from saved people!"

So the first response is to pray.  Pray for compassion of the saved!  We and by we I mean me, and everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ, we are reluctant, afraid and most of the time are apathetic towards sinners.  I know that there are those out there to which this statement does not apply to, but to the of us, it does.

Dr. Brewer then took us over to John 4: 1-42.  ( I am not going to quote the entire passage here but would suggest you click the link and read it.)

John 4:1-42 is the story of Jesus at the well in Samaria, speaking to the Samaritan woman.  The background here is that Jews and Samaritans had what amounts to a feud going on, and even though going through Samaria would be the quickest way from Judea to Galilee and vice verse, most Jews would take a longer route to avoid going through Samaria.  For this part of Jesus' ministry, John 4: 4 states that He HAD to pass through Samaria.  Note that here the word had in the Greek is Dei and means necessary, must, ought and should.

As Jesus and the disciples journey, they come to the city of Sychar.  Jesus is tired, weary and hungry from the journey and sits at a well.  It is about 12 noon (the sixth hour) and a woman comes to draw water from the well.  This in itself is unusual in that most women draw water in the early morning and do so together.  For this woman to draw water at this time and alone must have had meaning.  What Jesus did next did have meaning.

Jesus asks the woman for a drink of water.  This is unusual in several ways.  First, it is a Jew speaking to a Samaritan.  Second, it is a man speaking to a woman.  Third, it is a man speaking to a woman who apparently has a reputation.

There *came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus *said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman *said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
(Joh 4:7-9)
 Jesus models for us in this passage and those that follow, seven principles of how to interact with the lost:
  1. He took initiative.  Jesus asked the woman for a drink
  2. He asked a favor.  "Give me a drink"
  3. He establishes common ground.
  4. He communicates acceptance.
  5. He arouses interests in the gospel.
  6. He relates the gospel to real needs.
  7. He did not try to force a decision and actually avoided a forced decision. 
Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." She *said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?" Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." The woman *said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw." He *said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus *said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." The woman *said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus *said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman *said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us." Jesus *said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

(Joh 4:10-26)
Now a little later on she leaves for the town to tell the townsfolk just as Jesus' disciples are approaching.  They must have been completely shocked.  They saw their Master speaking with a Samaritan woman.  Why, Jesus must be delirious from hunger.  So they said to Jesus, "Here Lord, Eat!"

Jesus however, was no longer hungry, but satisfied in a way they did not understand.  Jesus finally says to his disciples that His food is doing the will of His Father.

And the will of His Father?  We find that in Luke 19:10
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
(Luk 19:10)
Jesus was refreshed from meeting with the Samaritan woman and presenting the good news to her and he challenged His disciples to have the same priority as He did.  He pointed out the Samaritan people coming to Him and once again Jesus points out that the harvest is ready!

Jesus in this encounter does not show one of the biggest hindrances to reaching the lost that we as ordinary humans do and that is prejudice.  In this encounter we know that the Jews are prejudiced towards the Samaritan people yet Jesus ignored that and pressed forward.

Prejudice.  A lack of acceptance of a person.  For what reason?  Social?  Sexual?  Racial?  Nationality?  Jesus did not worry about this in this or in any encounter and shows us how we MUST be.  So what are you waiting for?  Indeed what am I waiting for?

Jesus was totally about the people who were coming towards him.   This is WHY he had to go this way for this period of his ministry.

Dr. Brewer ended with this challenge to us.  "If we don't share the message of Jesus Christ no one will.  No other organization on this planet has been given the privilege and challenge to share His message.  Not the Rotary Club, not the Lion's Club, not Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  No one but us.  This is the reason we exists on this planet!"

So there is the challenge and Jesus is the model.  Remember your friends I asked about earlier?  If they are not followers of Christ, if your co-workers are not followers of Christ, but they are hurting and looking, if they are like sheep gone astray...if not you then who?

Even though I go into the prisons, I have been convicted that it is NOT ENOUGH!  I need the compassion that Christ showed the Samaritan woman.

That is my prayer.  Will it be yours as well.

Have a great night and God Bless.

Friday, January 27, 2012

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

I found out that today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day as designated by the United Nations.  One of the few things I actually agree on with them.

I know that today, if you ask most young people on the street what was the Holocaust, or even "Who is Adolf Hitler", you will probably get a stumped look or a confused look from the person.  Don't believe me?  Go here and watch for yourself.  It's actually disheartening to see.

The word Holocaust generally refers to the deaths of Jews, but often other victims of Nazi Germany are often also included.
Although the exact figure will never be known, here are estimates:
  • The figure of 11 million people dead is often given but it is completely unclear where this figure comes from, and how it is calculated. It is far too low. One also encounters the range 11-17 million.
  • 6 million of these were Jewish (close to two thirds of Europe's Jewish population) and about one quarter of these were children under 15.
  • Up to 270,000 were Roma/Sinti (Gypsies).
In addition, Hitler targeted homosexuals, Communists and other political dissidents, most Slavs, Jehovah's Witnesses, dissidents, some Protestant pastors and Catholic priests, black people, the mentally and physically disabled, and others. The figures include the camps as well as the mass graves in the countryside, killings in the street, organized mass shootings (such as Babi Yar, etc.) and basically, any person singled out for their race, religion, political beliefs, or their sexual orientation.
There are approximately 250 Holocaust museums and centers around the world where you can learn more, as well as extensive information elsewhere on the Internet.
  • Jews- 5.9 million
  • Soviet POW's- 3.3 million
  • Non-Jewish Poles- 1.8-2 million
  • Romanis ('gypsies')- 220,000- 270,000 (but even the higher figure may be too low)
  • Disabled- 200,000 - 250,000
  • Homosexuals- 5,000 - 15,000
  • Jehovah's Witnesses- 2,500 - 5,000
If you get a chance today, or any day for that matter, go to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and look at their website.  Start with the following video.

Let us NEVER forget what happened. For those who forget the past are doomed to repeat the past. Eric

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Moment While Studying

To go along with my New Year's resolution for this year, I am doing one main reading plan for the year to get back into the Bible and many shorter topical reading plans.  The current short reading plan I am doing is one on parenting and today's passages were from 1st Corinthians chapter 13, verses 1, 2 and 7.

It was while reading verses 1 and 2 from the Message translation that several thoughts came to me regarding my time as a child and how my childhood has affected me as a parent.  Here are the verses I read, from the Message translation:

1Co 13:1-2 MSG  If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  (2)  If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.

For a few years as I was growing up my mother had a roommate living with us.  A female friend she knew from college whose name I won't mention, even though she has passed on from this life.  During my years in which she lived with us, there were several times when I would do something wrong, or do something to help yet it would backfire, such as the time I used normal dish washing soap in the dishwasher, and the only things I would hear were "You're useless!"  or "Idiot!"  or "You will never amount to anything!".  Yet whenever the roommate would be with other people, in social or intimate settings with other family members, her words were never hateful or hurtful.  +

Those words at times still haunt me, even though I have become successful in life, thanks to God and my loving wife.

Thinking all of this led me to reflect on how I am as a parent.  I know the power words have on a person, and I can honestly say that I have never said anything as hateful to my kids as what was said to me growing up.  Now I am not infallible and I have yelled at my kids before.  I have apologized afterwards to show them it wasn't appropriate, but I will never tell them they won't amount to anything or that they are idiots or anything like that because that is not what they are.  They are both intelligent, promising kids with bright futures.  And they are my daughters.  They deserve better than what I got.

I feel I am rambling here and if you feel that way then I apologize.  I think the whole premise of this is to simply ask this.  Watch what you say to your kids.  Words will stay with them for years and years and if all they hear from you are things that bring them down, that tear them down, then you are hurting them for far longer than you will ever know.  Build them up.  Bring them up.  Love them up.

I wish I had been.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Sunday's Sermon Notes For January 22, 2012 -- Part One

This past Sunday's sermon continued the series we are currently studying titled "In His Image" and is the fourth sermon in the series.  The sermon was titled "Becoming Like Jesus in Prayer".  The sermon was given by Dr. Bill Brewer and it was one of the more intense ones I have heard him preach.  He covered a lot of territory in this one, so we all held on and listened and (hopefully) I took good notes.  Here are those notes.

There are a couple of items in our lives that cause us to have diluted prayer.  The first of these is prosperity.  After all, when we ask for "Our Daily Bread",  it is a little difficult when you pantry is completely full.  Also when you are living in a time of prosperity (not necessarily rich like Bill Gates, but you can pay the bills and have some left over to live comfortably), you find yourself tending not to pray.  After all everything is going great, so why should we ask for anything from the Father.  It is during these times that we tend to become more reliant on ourselves, and not reliant on God!

The second item that causes us to lead a diluted prayer life is our busyness .  We have all of the modern conveniences at our disposal:  cell phones, smart phones, laptops, tablets...and these are all supposed to save us time.  What they are doing in fact are taking our time and making us more "disconnected" in a personal sense.  They also allow us to take our time and stay online, checking email, surfing the internet and tweet and blog just to name a few.  What does this do with our prayer life?  It takes that time away from us.  Of course it's not just our "smart" devices that cause the busyness of our lives.  We can add to that list television, work, and even friends!

These are both things that we have to overcome to have a better prayer life!

One of the things that Dr. Brewer said resonated with the congregation and that was that "Prayer was Jesus' holy habit" and when you start looking at the scriptures that's true.  Here are the verses that Dr. Brewer pointed out:

  • Luke 3: 21-22
  • Luke 5: 15-16
  • Luke 6: 12- 13
  • Luke 9:18
  • Luke 9:28

Jesus prayed in a number of ways and places.  He prayed (I believe) both during and after his baptism by John.  He prayed while alone and actually left everyone around Him to be secluded in his time in prayer.  He prayed before making those most important decisions.  He prayed in public, and he prayed while his most closest friends were with him.

Prayer was indeed a holy habit Jesus kept.

In part 2 of this post for this Sunday's sermon notes, I will go over what Dr. Brewer said about how Jesus taught us to pray, and what might further hinder us from having this holy habit we should all be keeping.

Have a great day,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Review of Heart of Ice by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Heart of Ice is a novel by Lis Wiehl with April Henry and is based on the "Triple Threat" characters Cassidy Shaw and her best friends Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedge first introduced to Wiehl's readers in the novel Face of Betrayal.  In Heart of Ice the Triple Threat women face an intense situation in dealing with a cunningly cold-blooded murderer.

This is the second book by Lis Wiehl I have read and though I did enjoy it towards the end, I struggled to read it from the beginning to nearly halfway through the book.  The main reason for this was that I felt I was reading a modern fiction book more geared towards women than a mystery or suspense novel.  With discussions among the characters about miscarriage and one character possibly dealing with breast cancer, I simply struggled with this portion of the novel and wanted more.  More suspense, more action, a more faster pace.  Eventually I did get those things.

The other thing that was difficult for me was knowing who the antagonist was almost immediately.  I have to admit that when I read a mystery, I don't want to know who the killer is within the first few chapters.  I want to know who was murdered, but not by whom!  I want to try and match wits with the writer, attempt to try and figure out who exactly is the bad guy.  This book does not allow the reader to do this in the style it is written in.

There are a number of positive things I want to say about this book.  The characters are very well written and are not one dimensional; the reader should feel right there with them as they go about their daily lives.  The plot is well done with various sub-plots written in and delightfully intertwined together.  Dialog is well written and in most places fast paced.  Not all, but in most places.

As this is the first Triple Threat novel I have read, I will not judge the entire series based on this novel.  I will have to read at least the first novel to gain a better feel for the series.  For this novel, I am giving it three (3) stars, not because I think this is a bad novel, but it is a novel that I believe is not quite my style.  I would recommend this book to my friends, but I would have to let them know why I only gave it three stars.

(Disclosure:  I did receive an advanced copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers to review and made no promises as to the nature of my review.  The posted review is mine and mine alone.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weight: A Lifelong War To Win

There have been only a few times in my life when I haven't been fat.  Growing up until I hit eleven and a two year span from 1999 until 2001.  Besides those years of being at a normal weight, I have constantly been at a minimum of 100 pounds plus overweight.

But enough is enough and at 43, it is time to finally slim down to a healthy weight and keep it off.

At least according to my wife. 

So I received an email from Weight Watchers this morning thanking me for signing up.  Well, I didn't sign up, but the mystery was solved a few minutes later with an email from my wife saying I could thank her for signing me up.  That was her way of saying "Honey, I love you and want you to stay in our life for a really long time."  I am a very lucky man to have such a loving, caring wife.

So what does this mean to me?

Well, I have set some goals to meet, as well as a few challenges I intend to meet during this time of my life.  Here they are:
  1. Lose 5% of my weight for the first weight loss goal.  
  2. Walk (for now) a minimum of one (1) mile every day, no matter what the weather.  In the case of sickness, bank extra miles.  I want to complete at the minimum 356 miles this year.  (And since I am already 15 miles in the hole, I need to make up for lost time.)
  3. Participate in a race by the end of May.  I will probably walk it, but I want to participate in a 3 or 5K race.  I am not planning on winning, but I plan on finishing!  And as a side bonus, I plan on grabbing the kids and having them participate with me.
Those are the goals so far for the first 90 days or so.  I'll be updating the blog with how things are going.

Weight has been a battle for me all of my life, but this time I am not alone in the battle; I have loving help.  So this time I plan on winning not only the battle, but winning the war.

Oh, and the starting point for me?  360 pounds.  You can do the math on the rest.

Have a great day!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday's Sermon Notes

I will be at the Dawson State Jail today, so I will not have my Sunday's Sermon Notes up.  I will however write a post about how the ministry event went.  Thanks for all your prayers!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Going back to the Dawson State Jail this Sunday

I know I've blogged about this earlier, but I wanted to reiterate that I would greatly appreciate your prayers for this event.

Bill Glass' Champions for Life will be partnering up with the I Am Second Locked Up student ministry to have an opportunity to present the Gospel to the inmates at the Dawson State Jail this coming January 15th and we need your prayer support for this.

For those who follow my blog, or visit from time to time, you may have read of my last trip to the Dawson State Jail in Dallas, Texas back in November; this partnership with the I Am Second Locked Up student ministry has allowed me the opportunity to go back again to help spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to those behind the razor wire.

This will be a smaller event that we had last time, with only a total of 80 teammates attending from the Bill Glass Ministry.  I am looking forward to this, believe me, but we do need your help.  Not financially, but spiritually.  We need prayer cover for this.  The Dawson State Jail is a very dark place spiritually; you can literally feel it when you walk in.  Your prayers are are one of the biggest helps we can have.  Pray specifically for those on the inside to have their hearts softened and receptive to the Gospel message.  Pray for those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ to be praying and studying, and living a life that glorifies God, even on the inside.  Especially on the inside.

Pray for those of us who are going in.  Pray specifically that we are prepared to speak as the Holy Spirit directs us to.  Pray for our protection, physically and spiritually.  But most of all PRAY!  That is the biggest weapon we have; the prayers of the saints.

I am looking forward to this.  Thank you for your prayers.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Review of The Walk by Shaun Alexander

One of the few professional athletes who claimed to be a follower of Christ and actually lived a life that not only glorified God, but actually proved they were a follow of Christ by the way the lived was and still is Shaun Alexander.  So when I was offered a chance to read and review his book The Walk, I said yes.

I will be honest with you; I wasn't sure what to expect from reading Mr. Alexander's book.  What I did find was a man who truly loves God and does everything he can to life a life that shows Christ to the world.  

The book itself is written for the common person.  What I mean by that is that if you are looking for a grand theological discussion on Justification, Sanctification or other theological aspects of Christianity, then you will need to look elsewhere.  What you are going to find is Mr. Alexander's interpretation of how a follower of Christ grows in life.  Mr. Alexander lists five (5) stages of growth in a person's life.  These stages are:

1. Wanderer/Wonderer -- When a person is an unbeliever
2. Believer -- When a person first believes in Jesus Christ
3. Example -- When a person has been a believer and now lives it in life.
4. Teacher -- When a person begins teaching others in the faith
5. Imparter -- When a person imparts unto other people things of God.

Each of these stages are presented as a section of the book and within each section are two additional chapters besides the chapter discussing the stage.  The other two chapters are a great compliment and include a chapter  on Trials, Traps and Victories and a chapter discussing how the Apostle Peter showed the particular growth stage in his life as told by the Bible.  With all three chapters combined in each section, I thought Mr. Alexander did a good job of explaining the growth stages in his own words.

Besides the sections of the book on growth, there are other chapters giving insight to Mr. Alexander's life as a Christian and how he has gone through these growth stages.  His style of writing is warm and you feel as though you are sitting with Mr. Alexander at a coffee shop, simply discussing the life of a follower of Christ.  I do have to give a small warning though.  If you have any reservations about miracles, or what some people would call Charismatic Christianity, then you will need to read this book with more of an open mind and thoughtful prayer.  There were no "speaking in tongues" moments in the book, but there are lots of instances told by Mr. Alexander of the Holy Spirit in his life and ministry.

Overall I did enjoy this book, though it did take me a little longer to read than normal, as I decided to look up the scriptures that are quoted in Mr. Alexander's book.  I do not have any problem in recommending this book to others and I am giving it four (4) stars.

Please note that this book was presented to me by Waterbrook Press for the purpose of reviewing the book.  I did not promise, nor in any way indicate a positive or negative review to the publisher.  The review as presented is mine and mine alone.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sunday's Sermon Notes

I wanted to start a new feature on my blog called Sunday's Sermon Notes.  These will be notes that I have taken during the sermon that is given at the church I attend by the various pastors.  This serves a couple of purposes.  One, it helps me to review and remember what was said, and two, it gives me a chance to share with you, my readers, the notes taken.  I will be including the link to the podcast for the sermon given as soon as it's available, as well as the community group questions that are printed out for us to use in our community groups. (Our version of small group study groups.)  I hope you enjoy this new feature, but most of all I pray God will use it to whatever degree to further His purpose and His kingdom.

The sermon today was the second in the series entitled "In His Image: Becoming More Like Jesus" and covered Matthew 4:18-22 and Luke 5:1-11.

One of the first things that Pastor Bill brought to our attention was that this was two separate times represented in the Bible, whereas I thought they were a single time told from two points of view.  Pastor Bill said that call to Peter and the others by Jesus in Matthew was the first call and the call in Luke a "recall".  Another way to look at it was that in Matthew, the response by Peter, Andrew, James and John to Jesus' call to "Follow Me" was an "immediate" following.  They left everything and followed Jesus.

However, in the passages in Luke, there is a different response.  Once Peter realizes the divinity of Jesus by the miraculous catch of fish, Peter falls to his knees (in the piles of smelly fish) and tells Jesus to "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!"  Jesus tells them to not be afraid, for now they would be fishers of men.  This time when they arrive on shore, all four leave their boats full of fish, and truly follow Him.  Pastor Bill called this the "complete" following

So what were some of the things learned today?  Here are three points taken from today's sermon.
  1. Jesus calls us into a relationship with Him not religion.  Christianity has always been about having a personal relationship with Christ whereas religion is something made by man; not by God.
  2. Jesus calls us to be with Him, and become like Him.  How is this done?  Back when the twelve walked with Jesus, he taught them, mentored them, showed them what to do.  Now we have the Bible to show us these things, to teach us how along with the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead us.
  3. Jesus calls us to follow Him fully, not partially. 
I have to admit that this last point is one that I am truly thinking about more and more.  I know that my surrender to Jesus back in 1997 was real and I was truly changed in that moment, but I am not sure if I fully follow Him.  To fully follow Him you need to love what He loves, hate what He hates and emulating Him.

I'll be honest, it's hard, but it is what we all have to do.

The last thing I took away from today's sermon was this:  If we want those surrounding us to be transformed by Jesus Christ, then we ourselves MUST be fully transformed by Jesus Christ.  I know that I am not yet at that point in my life but that is why I have chosen to follow through with my new year's resolution to do everything it takes to become more like Jesus Christ.

I'm not perfect in this; even today I was finding myself irritable and snappy, much to the determent of my family, but I will be continuing with this, or as some of my friends say, "keep on keeping on!" with this.  I hope you will as well with me.

Have a good day!


Friday, January 06, 2012

New Year's Resolution So Far

So far so good.  Of course it's only been a week for me, but I have not missed my morning quiet/devotion time.  Granted I still don't have that time frame up to an hour yet, but I am working on it.  Best I've done so far is 40 minutes and I'm averaging about 25 minutes per morning.  Something about going to bed after 10:30 at night, then trying to wake up at 4:30.

I've decided to use's list of reading plans to guide me for now. Specifically I am using the topical reading plans and the Solid Life Reading Plan.

I'll be staying the course, so keep me in prayer if you will, to stay on and do my best to work on my resolution for this new year.  I realize that this is a resolution that will not stop at the end of this year, but will continue on until I am completed upon my physical death; however, I think it's a good resolution to keep on keeping on with.

I'll post more later on about how this is going.  Until then, have a great day!


Monday, January 02, 2012

My New Year's Resolution 2012

This year's resolution is a little different from all the other ones I've had in the past.  It's always been weight loss, weight loss, weight loss for me.  After all, I'm fat.  I will admit that without issue.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at my picture to the left; the profile image picture I have.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

Well, I told you that I was fat.

So my resolution this year is different and indeed is one that is more important than losing weight.  This one involves eternity.  At church this Sunday, we were challenged to the following new year's resolution:  "In 2012 I will do whatever it takes to be transformed more into the image of Jesus Christ."  And that is going to be exactly what I will strive to do this year.  (And the next, and the next...)

The verses that were used for this sermon included the following:
  • Colossians 1:28 "He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ."
  • 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 " But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
  • Galatians 5:16-17 " 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want.
During my time reading this morning I went back over those verses.  After all, if that is where we started on Sunday, the very first day of the year, it was probably a good place to start this morning.  So during my reading, I had to look up the word "walk" in the original Greek.  I wanted to see what that word actually meant in the original language.  Walk in the Greek is περιπατέω (peripatéō ) which does mean "to walk", but also means "I conduct my life, live".

So I could paraphrase Galations 5:16 like this: "So I say, conduct your life, live your life by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

So how do I keep this resolution. Live my life by the Spirit.

Here is what I'll be doing to accomplish that.
  1. Set aside an hour of the morning, every morning, to read my Bible, but not to just read, but read with a purpose.
  2. Pray.  Paul tells us to pray constantly, and this is something I have slacked off on.  I'm not sure about praying constantly, but I resolve not to slack on this.
  3. Live my life as if Jesus were right beside me.
  4. Be sure to pray before I hit the floor in the morning, asking the Holy Spirit to take control of the day as I surrender control of my life to Him.
I am sure there will be other things I will do as the year progresses, (like update my blog on how things are going), but one thing I do believe: As my spiritual life goes, so goes the rest of my life.  So when someone asks me if I am planning on losing weight this year, I can look at them and tell them that no, I am not planning on it, but I believe I will lose weight.  After all, As I am building up my spiritual side, I can't let the tent housing the Holy Spirit go to pot can I?