Barricades

What is keeping you from coming to Jesus?

What barricades are in your way?

Barricades are put in place to block, stop or prevent you from doing something.

There are a variety of wounds in our lives that will put a barricade up between us and getting to Jesus.

-Self-Inflicted Wounds Barricade.  These could be because of selfishness or stupidity. This barricade is there because of someone we have said or done.

-Sin-Inflicted Barricade. Sin can get a strangle hold on you and hold you back.  It will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to be there, and cost you more than you ever wanted to pay.

-Someone Barricade- These could be wounds from something that someone says, relationships on your job, or religion. Someone else’s darkness can creep into your life. There are people that will tear you down and tick you off. They are your enemies. Not everyone wants to see you succeed.  They will rejoice when your life falls apart.

What is the enemy utilizing to keep you away from God? There will always be someone or something trying to stop you.

The Bible says in Romans 8:35-36, Can anything separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble or problems or persecution separate us from his love? If we have no food or clothes or face danger or even death, will that separate us from his love? But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown his love for us.

These verses give us comfort knowing God is not separated from us. He is always with us, we have complete victory through Him and His love for us.

 

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Numbers Matter

‪Why should we share our story? Should we grow a church? Why continue to reach out? Why did the early church refuse to stop?

Sometimes posts/blogs or conversations can reference church growth like it’s a negative thing. Many times the growth initiative is quickly turned to a debate on if it’s shallow or superficial.

A group is an opportunity for someone to hear about God. Whether it’s a concert, a team prayer, a graduation ceremony, a church gathering – let’s celebrate talking about God to groups!

When we ask do numbers matter – someone counted 12 men hearing about Jesus in Acts 19, they felt it important to tell us that 5000 men plus families were fed, the Bible references some growth as addition and other growth as multiplication, someone celebrated the facts of 120 receiving the power of Pentecost or 3000 getting saved in a day. Every number is a name, a person experiencing hope and life.

What if we stopped debating this subject and asked – is growing heaven a good thing?‬ Does heavens numbers matter?

‪The angels rejoice every time…

They say that Billy Graham initially experienced Christ in smaller settings – then went on to host stadiums and arenas full of people. I celebrate BOTH! I pray for every group of every size as they share the good news of Jesus with humanity.

Hats

I wear many hats. Some of my hats are a husband hat, a dad hat, as well as a pastor hat, boss/employer hat, budget hat, business leader hat, etc.

I recently sat in a leadership session that referenced how people can often view Pastors in a Pastor hat only. When this happens, people may say:

– How can a Pastor look at the business side of a church?

– How can a Pastor transition someone from staff?

– How can a loving shepherd correct or direct?

The truth is, there are times I must wear the hat of employer/boss/budget/business etc etc.

This was very enlightening as I listened to the session and evaluated my own life. Maybe it will help you when you view your Pastoral relationship as well.

There may be times that your Pastor needs to wear a hat of correction, direction, choices (budgets), and if we only see them wearing a Pastor hat we will misunderstand their responsibility and role in the moment.

I think this principle applies in many areas of life – I know many good employers that love their employees but there are times that they must put on the hat of boss/budget oversight or bottom line business leader and that hat is often different than the Christmas party bonus giving guy.

Knowing what “hat” they’re wearing helps us understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Together

How was it that you started coming to church?

How is it that you came to follow Jesus?

Chances are, your parents brought you, a friend invited you, or a co-worker asked you?

We are better together!

In Acts chapter 3, we see this concept put into action.

Acts 3: 1-10: Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.

This story shows us that Peter and John were going to the temple TOGETHER to pray. They saw a crippled man, ALONE, at the gate of the temple. They could’ve walked right by him and not given him a second look/thought. That’s not what they did; they stopped and gave him a hand, helped him up, and he was healed. Then, they proceeded to walk to the temple TOGETHER.

Who are you passing by on your way to prayer?

Who is on your way to Storyside?

Who do you know that is broken and needs Jesus?

Is there someone at your school, work, or in your family whom you could invite into the “Temple” with you?

Hebrews 10:25: We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.

We are BETTER TOGETHER!

Cost of Complacency

Lulled into Complacency

Proverbs 1:32 …the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.

Complacent- To become unaware or unconcerned over dangers or deficiencies.

Common- Appearing/occurring frequently, widespread, ordinary.

Take a walk through your house.  As you do, take notice of all the little deficiencies that have been there so long that you don’t even notice them any longer.  Are there smudges on the wall that need to be cleaned?  Are there nail holes that need to be filled?  Is there a chair that needs repairing?  What about the dust that you no longer notice?  Can you see them now?  How did you miss them?

Complacency.  The longer we are around something, good or bad, the more complacent with it we become.  We are no longer aware of it because it has simply become common to us.

Often, it can be the same with the people in our lives.

Some recent studies are showing divorce at an all-time high of 50 to 70 percent.  Staggering!  How are two people who vowed to stay together “’til death do us part” suddenly…apart.

What happened…complacency.

Each of those couples set out with the best of intentions. To be together forever.  But, slowly, over time, they became complacent with one another.  The relationship was no longer new.  Maybe he wasn’t excited to see her after work because she was always there.  Maybe she didn’t greet him at the door because he always came home.  There could be a lot of “maybe’s” here but in-the-end they just stopped being excited with each other. It wasn’t new anymore.

The longer they were together the more common their relationships grew and when we start to treat special people as though they are common, we risk losing them. Marriage is a covenant.  A solemn promise.  A promise to fight against the complacency that can destroy any relationship.

Complacency can also affect our relationships with our children.  When they are young we spend enormous amounts of time with them, but, the older and more independent they become, the less time we spend on our relationships with them.  We become complacent.

Studies show that the most important thing a family can do to improve children’s grades in school is to have family meals.  Why is that?  It’s because they are talking and being involved in one another’s lives.  When we become complacent, we fail to spend quality time with our children.  We forget to play with them.  We assume that everything is okay.  All-the-while, disaster could be simmering below the surface.

If we treat those who are special as though they are special, we are less likely to lose them.  So, if your marriage is struggling, try treating your relationship with the same excitement and vigor that you did in the beginning.  If your relationships with your children are struggling try spending some quality time with them.  Institute family mealtime each week.  Give it a try.  What have you go to lose?

Lean

Life is determined by the direction of your lean.

Do you have uncertainty, questions, or misunderstandings in life? The direction we lean and who we lean into will often determine the direction of our lives.

A football coach once told me that a defensive lineman should always look at the offensive lineman’s hand when he gets into his stance and puts it on the ground.  The reason why is because you can tell what direction he is going to block when the ball is snapped.  If you see his knuckles are turning white, its because he is leaning forward on that hand and is about to block forward on a running play.  If his knuckles are not turning white, that means he is leaning backwards, taking pressure off that hand, because he is about to drop back into pass protection.  So, the direction the offensive lineman is going to go is heavily determined by the way he is leaning.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not “lean” on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

A poorly coached offensive lineman does not understand that just his “lean” can give away his intentions.  There are things he simply doesn’t know.  A good lineman will acknowledge that his coach knows more than he does and heed his warnings and listen to his advice.

As Christians, we should always seek God for a better understanding of our situation.  There are always things outside of our own understanding that we do not know.

So, just like the offensive lineman, the direction you are going to move in life is determined by the direction of your lean.

Are you going to move forwards or backwards?

Will you lean into Jesus or will you lean into your own understanding?

What color are your knuckles?

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid

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What is it that you fear?

What do you worry about?

What frustrates you?

The National Institute of Mental Health says:

  • -60% of things that we worry about will never happen.
  • -68% live with a fear of death
  • -88% of health concerns that are worried about won’t happen.
  • -90% of our worries turn out to be less significant issues.

Does this mean that if we worry about things that they won’t happen?  No, it simply means that we spend too much of our time worrying about things that would never have happened in the first place.  How often are we guilty of dreading the worst possible outcome instead of anticipating the best possible outcome?

If we would refocus the energy we use for worrying and point it toward solutions our lives would be significantly less stress filled.  A key part of refocusing is to understand that there are just some things that are out of our control.

In Matthew 6:27, Jesus said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to his life.”  What he is saying here is that no amount of worrying will change anything.  It is Christ, and Christ alone, who holds the keys to life and death.  So, if he holds the keys to our very lives, wouldn’t it make sense to trust him with both the little and the big things that tomorrow might bring?  He knows what our troubles are.  He understands our challenges.  This doesn’t mean that we have no responsibility for the outcome.  It means that, in the end, whatever happens, is ultimately up to him anyway.  The best thing we can do is to do what we can and leave the rest up to him.

Mark 5:36 “…Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

 

 

Your Story

How did you get to Jesus?

Did a friend, family member, or co-worker invite you to church? Did they share their story of God’s love and grace with you?

John 8 tells us about a women who was “caught in the act of adultery.” She was dragged before Jesus where her accusers would explain to him that women, such as she, should be stoned to death. But Jesus showed her love and grace and, because of Him, her life was spared.

This women’s story of how she got to Jesus is pretty remarkable.  She was caught in the act, dragged through the crowd, and thrown to the ground before Jesus.  We don’t know what led her to the life that she was living, but we do know that once she made it to Jesus, everything changed.  There are a few facts about God’s grace that we can learn from her story.

  1. Grace loves you too much to let you fight your battles alone.  You may feel like no one knows what you are going through, but grace is there.
  2. Grace shows up when the odds are stacked against you.  If it would have been up to your accusers, you would not be where you are right now.  You are where you are because grace believed in you.
  3. Grace is willing to get dirty.  It’s been through the mud. Prison cells, divorce courts, front page of the newspaper…grace has been there.
  4. Grace says go! Jesus told the women to go and sin no more.  If you stay in your sin you will live the rest of your life condemned. Go!
  5. Grace knows how to find glory in your story.

Allow God to use your story to bring himself glory.  Share with others how you came to Jesus.  This helps to show people that there are two sides to every story, life before Christ, and life after you accepted Christ.  We need to realize that both sides of the story matter.  The struggles and the pain that God has brought you through have shaped you.  Now, you have a new story to tell!

It doesn’t matter HOW you got to Jesus; all that matters is THAT you got to Jesus!

 

A Bite, a Bag, and a Basket.

Are you living with a bite mentality when God wants to fill your baskets?

John chapter 6 says:

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.  He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

This is a very well known passage where God feeds 5,000 men with five loaves and two fish.  Many theologians believe that there were actually around 30,000 people there including the women and children.  In verses 5 and 6, Jesus asks where they can get bread for the people to eat even though he already knew what he was going to do.  Philip’s answer is how most of us would be thinking; doubt, hopelessness, there is no way we could feed all of these people! We would have to have more than a year’s wages to give each of these people just one bite! Then Andrew comes along with a lunch bag holding five loaves and two fish.  This was essentially five biscuits and two sardines.  Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking when Andrew gave this to Jesus?  They probably rolled their eyes at him for suggesting that such a small amount might be used  to feed all of those people.  But Jesus didn’t laugh.  He knew what he was going to do!

What obstacle in your life seems hopeless?

God already has your miracle in mind!

The “miracle” is NOT what you have in your mind!

We see what’s now, God sees what’s next!

The basket is in the bag!

Believe for the baskets!

We are the sum total of our choices. We all know someone whose life has been destroyed because of poor choices. An affair. Drug abuse. Excessive debt. Poor health from bad eating. The words of Pastor Andy Stanley rang true when he said, “Nobody plans to ruin their lives, just a few plan not to. […]

via 1 Key To Healthy Choices  — Ethanboggs.net

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