Monthly Archives: August 2013

Shared Post: When Your Quiet Time Goes Silent by Kevin Sheen

Great insight by Kevin Sheen:

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When Your Quiet Time Goes Silent by Kevin Sheen

4 ways to jumpstart your spiritual growth
 
I was in my early 20’s when I became a Christian. And as a new believer, I earnestly sought to make up the ground that I felt I’d lost by spending copious amounts of time reading my Bible. 

While this was effective for me early on, after a few months, my desire began to wane. That’s when I was exposed to the idea of a daily “quiet time.” It was something that was introduced by Christians that I respected greatly and seemed like a really great idea. I mean, who couldn’t afford to carve a few minutes out of every morning to start the day hearing from God through His Word?

And the thing is, once I was aware of the “quiet time” phenomenon, I was amazed at just how prevalent it was.

Everyone was always talking about their quiet time. 

But the thing was …it didn’t really work for me.

Mornings were always rough, because I’d inevitably be thinking about all the things I had to accomplish during the day. Lunchtime was too inconsistent based on my workload. And I’ve fallen asleep reading the Bible in the evening more times than I can probably recall.

The Truth that God chooses different, unique, ways for each of us.

But even during those times when I successfully put aside my to-do-list and fought off sleep, I’d often still find my mind wandering a few minutes or even moments in. I thought maybe it was just that I wasn’t disciplined enough, but no matter how hard I seemed to try, my quiet time seemed empty.

Then one day, during an afternoon walk, I stopped to rest under the shade of a large tree and was prompted to open my Bible (I went almost everywhere wearing a satchel with a Bible in those days) and came upon the following passage from Psalm 25:

Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? 
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.

As I read this, it occurred to me that, while a focused quiet time was something that seemed to work well for many of my friends, that didn’t necessarily have to be the way God guided me. In this psalm from David I was reminded of the importance of desiring to know God’s ways and paths, but also of the Truth that God chooses different, unique, ways for each of us.

And in the years since my struggle to force the paths of others to lead me, I’ve discovered that God has the ability to speak to me in a variety of different ways.

1) Nature – Engaging with God through His creation

The beauty of God’s creation surrounds us, yet we’re often so busy simply moving through that we neglect to think about how wonderful it is to be a part of it. While doing things like taking a walk during a rainstorm or traveling outside the city to gaze at the stars may seem like flights of fancy, they’re also amazing opportunities to reflect on the scope of God’s plan and consider the privilege that you are not only a unique part of His creation, but an important and valuable member of His family.

2) Biblical Interruptions – Remove Excuses

One of the chief barriers for spending time with God is the way we budget our time. I struggled with distraction during my attempts at a quiet time because the time I was setting aside was always competing with something else. So if that’s a struggle for you, I suggest finding a way to have different points of your day interrupted with opportunities to consider God’s Word. I use an app called goTandem. It sends me scripture multiple times a day, personalized for me.

 Note: As a point of full-disclosure, I’m a part of the goTandem ministry. But I have genuinely found it to be effective.

3) Exercise – Challenge your spirit while challenging your body

It’s easy to just pop in earbuds and zone out during a workout. However, I’ve found that during exercise, God sees me as a captive audience and will often challenge me to consider something important in the midst of my sweat and labored breathing. So whether you want to just read a quick section of scripture before a run, or listen to an entire podcast during your P90X routine it’s a great opportunity to incorporate time with God.

4) Meet with a Trusted Friend – Getting an outside perspective

Each of us should have a handful of people who know us well. Whether it’s a spouse, best friend, pastor or our own mother, we function best as part of a community. (Even those of us that are introverts.) And when it comes to our personal relationship with God, sometimes others seem to have a better handle on what God is telling us than we do.  So whether you’re finding yourself in the midst of a dry spell or paralyzed by a fork in life’s road, set up a time with a trusted friend to talk through it. You just might be amazed at how clear your path is when you hear how others are watching you travel it.

It’s natural to want our meetings with God to work instantaneously—the same we’d like one trip to the gym to result in a six-pack.

The challenge with these “quiet times” is they rarely turn into the life-altering meetings we so want them to be. It’s natural to want our meetings with God to work instantaneously—the same we’d like one trip to the gym to result in a six-pack. The trouble (and beauty) is that our relationship with God is a journey. It requires steps, and while they may be small, each one takes us somewhere.

So whether you’re one of those people for whom a quiet time works well, or someone who struggles to make time for God, the important thing to remember is that God is faithful.He’ll show up to meet us whenever or where ever we are. It won’t always be life-altering, but it will always be worthwhile.

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Source: Here

Shared Post: The Modern Worship Music Wars by Stephen Miller

“The old church debates about hymns and choruses have taken on a new, more subtle tone.”
 
“Ours is a generation marked by war.I’m not referring to a war with guns and tanks, though we have certainly seen our share of that as well. We are a generation that grew up witnessing the church fight over the very thing that was supposed to unite us: the worship of Jesus.

The Good Old Hymns vs. Modern Worship Choruses.

Organ & Piano vs. Those Demon Drums.

Few of us emerged from these consumerism driven worship wars of our younger years unscathed. Their impact has been profound, both personally and corporately.

Fast forward a decade or two and, at first glance, the worship wars that once plagued the church seem to have died down. So it might be easy to chalk it all up to a problem from a bygone era.

Until we walk out of a church service that didn’t meet our own standards.

We have become professional critics of corporate worship. We complain about everything.

The volume is either too loud, or not loud enough. The lighting is either too bright or not bright enough; too showy or too bland.

We grumble about song selection, saying things like, “They introduce too many new songs,” “Why do we keep doing the same songs over and over,” or “I hate that song.”

From key signatures to instrumentation; from the worship leader’s fashion sense to vocal tone – it’s all fair game for our consumer-driven critique.

We are the fast food slogan-slinging generation of “Have it your way.”We are American Idol’s panel of expert judges.

We don’t know how to shut up and we don’t have to because social media gives us constant platform to speak out about anything and everything we love and hate.

We tend to assign spiritual value to our preferences.

Everything about our world tells us that we are the king (or queen) of the castle.So as humans, it is impossible to avoid having our own personal preferences. Our distinct opinions shape the way we approach every area of life, including how we connect in corporate worship. As such, we tend to assign spiritual value to our preferences.

For example, if we gravitate toward a more stripped back, rootsy corporate worship experience, we exalt that as the most spiritually helpful, while demonizing a corporate worship experience that is more produced. We employ abstract, vague descriptors like, “That felt like a show – it just didn’t seem authentic.” All the while the person on the platform may be a genuinely godly person who has put much thought, effort, and prayer into using his or her own stylistic musical talents to lead in corporate worship as excellently and effectively as possible.

The modern church has spearheaded all new creatively contextual expressions of corporate worship. We have everything from Traditional church to Seeker church to Cowboy church, Biker church, Surfer church and everywhere in between. We have Jazz, R&B, Funk, Gospel, Pop, Rock & Roll, Country, Rap, Hair Metal, Classical, and more.

We must see the beauty in that …and the danger.

The vast variety of expressions of worship to our ever-worthy Savior is an incredible opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and express praise in new and fresh ways. But these tools ought not become the deterrents from or objects of our exaltation.

When we gather as the church, we are not coming as critics. We are not talent judges from The Voice who get to slam a “worship button” whenever we like what we’re hearing. We are not entitled to make the call on whether or not we feel like worshiping God and building up his church. His glory does not wait for us to like the music before he becomes worthy of all our worship.

We dare not approach the throne of an objectively great, timeless, unchanging, and holy God with a consumer mindset that says we can only worship him if our subjective preferential demands are met. That mindset only robs God of the glory he is due, robs the church of the encouragement it needs as it fights the true war of faith, and robs us of being encouraged and shaped by the truth of God’s word as we sing it.

We gather to preach and sing the good news to ourselves, one another, and those who don’t yet know that a sovereign God loved us enough to give us his only Son to rescue us and give us eternal life. We sing that Jesus came willingly as to redeem and adopt us, defeat sin and death, and give us the Holy Spirit to liberate and empower us to repent, believe, forsake our comfort, take up our cross, and follow Christ.

Worship is war. But it is not to be fought over our own preferences.

We gather to serve one another because we have been served by God himself.It shouldn’t take the perfect circumstances for us to see the beauty, glory and wonder of our great God. If we have tasted the beauty of grace, it should be easy for us to stand in awe, utterly captivated by that incredible, glorious truth that transcends all preferences of all people in all cultures for all time. But we have to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto him.

Worship is war. But it is not to be fought over our own preferences. We must turn our energy towards killing the selective, prideful nature within us. We must fight to put to death anything in us that would hinder us from pursuing Christ with all we are. We must fight to worship him with a joyful adoration that cannot be contained.

So the next time you go to church and the music is too loud, or the leader is singing that song you don’t like, go to war. Fight against the sin at work within yourself. Fight against consumerism and disunity. Fight for a grateful heart. Fight for the truth to captivate you in a way that music never could. Fight to stand in awe of a mighty God who rescued you and graciously sings over you.

Fight the true war of worship.”

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Source: Here

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I-Have-Learned

what’s in a name

You know what song is pouring through my mind as I write this?

Hello, My Name Is… by Matthew West – click here

It’s a popular one on most major CCM radio stations in the Twin Cities and I’ve heard it twice already today.

The verses start out with “Hello, my name is regret…defeat…” You know those words. I do. With every fiber of my being. They’re familiar. And we think they’re comfortable. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

What you name something is immeasurably important. Kate Middleton, for instance, no longer goes by Kate. She goes by Catherine. See the difference? Kate is more of your modern, day-to-day name. It’s a name of normalcy. It’s fun. But Catherine… now that’s a dignified name and more appropriate to her role as a royal.

What is your name? What names do you go by to those who love you? What do they mean?

Without going into too much detail (this is the internet after all), the name I was given at birth means grace.

My middle name means God is gracious.

I like that, personally. But do I really live it out? Have I truly embraced that part of me?

How about the names of some important biblical characters?

Sarah means princess.
David means beloved, friend.
Daniel means God is my judge.
Elizabeth means My God is bountiful.
Peter means Rock.

Let me take this one step further (along with the assistance of Stasi Eldredge) and ask you the following:

What names do you call yourself? What do you say to yourself when you pass a mirror? What do you tell yourself about your post-weight-loss body or your post-delivery body or your premenopausal tummy or your memory that so often seems to be slipping away? What words do you use?

Or what have others called you? What have you believed yourself to be true because of those words?

Growing up, I didn’t fit in. I still don’t, but I’ve grown to be okay with that. I’ve accepted it. But, not fitting in when you’re a child leads to territory I wish no one would have to claim or endure. I don’t remember many of the names or statements that were carelessly tossed around, but terms like stupid, idiot, ugly, short, and inadequate still stand out to me. Perhaps you had a similar childhood or home life while growing up. Maybe you still do.

There is power in what we name ourselves and in what we believe ourselves to be. There is power in what others name us as well. Both the power to bless and the power to curse come from the heart and flows out of the mouth through words. What we call something, what we are called, whether good or evil, will play itself out in our lives.

What you call yourself, someone or something is powerful. It affects your life, your relationships, and your walk with God. Stasi would also say that what you call yourself “affects your ability to become who you are meant to be” (pg. 217 of Becoming Myself).

God knows this. And He calls you Beloved.

I love that term. It has a deep, personal meaning to me, so much so that I now wear it permanently on the inside of my left wrist. It’s a constant reminder of Whose I am and it rings loud and clear on some of my darkest days, when I need it most.

Beloved

What does that mean?

It means one greatly loved.

Dear to the heart

It means admired, adored, cherished, and darling.

Beloved means dear, dear one, dearest, esteemed, favorite, honey.

It means ladylove, light of love, loved one, lover, precious, prized, respected and revered.

Beloved means you.

It means who you are to Him.

And who you are to Him means everything.

Everything

This is where your true identity lies. It’s also where mine lies…often as I seem to forget it.

God calls you to believe this. Time and time again.

He endlessly pursues you and won’t stop until you are completely His. It’s a transformation process; it starts on the inside and eventually illuminates everything you are and eventually, those around will see it and won’t be able to help wanting that too. I’m on my way there. So are you. He simply calls you to believe it.

The fruit of knowing this, of truly believing that you are His beloved, is intimacy with him and is shown through humility in your life.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis

Wise words. We cannot live our lives thinking highly of ourselves (being puffed up – that’s pride) or thinking less of our selves (also pride…God opinion does not lie here). This thinking is dangerous. You cannot live well, you cannot love well, and you cannot fulfill your destiny if you do not know who you are. You cannot become your true self if you do not know who you are to become.

So…

Who are you?

You might be like me in the fact that I just got so irritated with my last caller’s request that I rushed through getting her connected with the right department rather than taking a moment to let her feel that she is loved and cared for. I’ll be right back…

Okay, I’m back…needed to clear the air between Jesus and me for a second before I continue.

Who are you?

Going back to the song that’s been pouring through my head as I pen this: The chorus continues with this truth: “my name is child of the one true King. I’ve been saved. I’ve been changed. I’ve been set free. Amazing Grace is the song I sing..”

That couldn’t be closer to the truth.

God sees me as lovely, but lovely thoughts have not been filling my mind just now. Actually, they haven’t been for days and I need to give those thoughts to Jesus and let him take care of them. There are days when I really need help… When you and I believe that our truest identity lies in being a sinner. What we call ourselves and when we put equal weight on what others say, we believe those lies. It affects how we live, move and and have our being (which shoul only be in Him). We walk around ashamed, accused, condemned and unworthy of being called His. We are separated from God and this is exactly what the Enemy wants us to believe and how he would prefer we live.

I’d like to hit this one home with Staci’s help: “When the focus of our heart is solely on our failings, then our heart spirals down. God tells us not to focus on our failings but on his faithfulness. He calls us to gaze not on our brokenness but on our Healer.”

We tend to move toward what we focus on.

Keep your eyes on Him and learn to believe the truth of your identity. You are His.

Wholly

Completely

Entirely

His Beloved

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12.2

Sources: “Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You” by Staci Eldredge…found here

Shared Post: 11 Questions Every Twentysomething Should Ask by Paul Angone

I’m a twentysomething and upon reading this article, written by Paul Angone and shared at RelevantMagazine.com (here), I couldn’t help but share this with my readers. I do not want to stand at the end of my 20s thinking I didn’t do something for God’s Kingdom, rather than it all being for my own.

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11 Questions Every Twentysomething Should Ask : Questions to help move on from “what now?”

Your twenties can be a rough time. You graduate college. You get a job—not necessarily the one you always dreamed of. You may move to a new city and start trying to establish yourself. But a lot of the time, you’re just not sure where you’re headed—or even where you want to be going.

Often, the question of “what now?” plagues us in our twenties like chickenpox. The more we scratch, the worse it itches. The overwhelming vagueness of “what am I doing with my life?” can crush us like the bully who sat on our head in third grade.

Our twenties can feel like being smothered in questions, but if we don’t ask the right questions, we will forever remain stuck.

After years of struggle, studying, searching and being un-glamorously squashed over and over again, here are 11 questions I believe every twentysomething needs to ask to be successful:

Our twenties can feel like being smothered in questions, but if we don’t ask the right questions, then we’ll forever remain stuck.

1. Do the people I’m surrounded by bring me life?

Are your friends taking steps forward or are they still playing beer pong in the basement? Do you leave from hanging out with friends feeling anxious or alive? Are your friends anvils tied around your ankles or jetpacks helping you fly?

Your life will resemble the lives of your closest friends—does that fact excite you or freak you out?

2. Who inspires me the most?

Think about the one person you most want to emulate. Who is it? Now what is it about their story or character that draws you to them? Write down the words that come to mind. The person you want to be like the most tells you a lot about who you hope to become.

3. What are my favorite stories?

What are your top three movies? Is there a common thread that runs through each story?

If you want to see what matters most to you, look at the stories that resonate the closest. For me, the common thread in my favorite movies is the underdog who perseveres through pain, thrives from their authentic self and succeeds at something sane people would never attempt.

Your core values are lying on the surface of your favorite stories.

4. Would I want to live with me?

Before you start thinking about living with someone else, do you even want to live with yourself? Have you opened up your closet doors and faced your monsters?Too many people go into relationships hoping that they will fix all their problems, when relationships actually have the magical ability to show you how many problems you really have. Like a third-rate magician, marriage puts big things behind a curtain, but does nothing to make them disappear.

If you don’t like living with yourself, is it fair to ask someone else to live with you?

5. Do I love from my insecurities or do I love from my strengths?

Loving from your insecurities demands from others. Loving from your strengths gives to them. Loving out of your insecurities means you don’t want to see people succeed more than yourself. Loving from your strengths means you are the first to celebrate with others when you hear of their successes. Loving from insecurities daily demands “what are you going to do for me?” Loving from strengths asks others, “what can I do for you?” Too many people love from their insecurities, and that’s not love.

6. Where am I ripe with talent and where do I quickly deflate?

We all have talent. And we all have loads of non-talent we keep trying to transform into talent. Write down a few things you’re talented at and a few things you’re not. Then focus on the things you’re good at. Stop trying to chip away at that solid cement block when you have a soft block of cheese just waiting to be devoured.

7. What are my favorite hobbies/things I do for fun, and are they something I can leverage into a career or product?

I recently heard John Saddington speak, a serial entrepreneur who’s probably best known for creating Standard Theme for WordPress, and he urged the crowd to examine our hobbies.

There is something you have spent more time doing than most people in the world. How can you leverage that experience into something that could make you money? For Saddington, he loved online computer games, so he started an online dating service for gamers. He knew the gaming world and he knew websites, so he put those two together and had an overnight success.

For me, it’s telling stories. So I started writing them down.

8. What’s the main thing holding me back?

Is it an addiction? Anxiety attacks? Depression? An obsession with pinning pictures of rock-hard abs on Pinterest while drinking? What is the main thing that is keeping you from moving forward and who can help you cut the chain?

What are you willing to give up and what are you going to cling tight to?

9. What are my negotiables and non-negotiables?

What are you willing to give up and what are you going to cling tightly to? Are you willing to move anywhere, but you’ll never take a job that expects more than 40 hours a week? Is job flexibility a non-negotiable, or is it job-stability? Write a list of non-negotiables and negotiables, and then do your best to stick to that list.

10. What breaks my heart?

What injustice makes you angrier than a parrot being poked with a stick? And what’s something you can do about it right now? Knowing what breaks your heart can clarify what makes you feel whole.

11. At 29 years and 364 days, if I have accomplished just one thing, what do I want it to be?

If you only had the choice to accomplish just one thing in your twenties, what would it be? How do you take one step toward that today? Our twenties can feel like trying to walk with shoes covered in fast-dry cement, so how do we keep moving forward? Is it a phone call to ask for an informational interview? Is it asking a crush out on a date? Is it making an appointment with a counselor? What’s one small thing you can do today so that you can go even further tomorrow?

Shared Post: Is Swearing a Big Deal? by Eric Tippin

Great question. I grew up on a farm and am surrounded by it living in the city. It’s on TV. People don’t seem to care what flies out of their mouths any more.

Matthew 12:34 reads “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart…”

His Word speaks truth and I can’t help but question and pray for the hearts of so many. I can’t help but even question my own heart at times. I know I’m being transformed from the inside out, but how can I seek to speak the way God calls me to while I’m being transformed?

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Is Swearing a Big Deal? :: How should we feel about the growing acceptance of profanity?

Answer: J. Clemente’s first two words as a weekend news anchor were a certain word that begins with ‘f’ and a certain word that begins with ‘s.” It was an accidental, verbal response to his fumbling over his first report.

Those words also got him fired.

We all know words matter. Clemente isn’t the first to lose his job over careless words. In public and on-air we censor ourselves, bleeping or blacking out unsavory words, substituting less controversial expletives.

As Christians, we are told that words, specifically spoken words, “Have the power of life and death.”

As Christians, we are told that words, specifically spoken words, “Have the power of life and death.” Yet, there is a feeling among some Christians that those bleeped words and even flippant references to the Deity shouldn’t be sweated.

After all, a spoken word is merely air vibrating a couple flaps of skin and running an obstacle course in the mouth. It seems silly to categorize certain words—mere fluctuating symbols given meaning by society’s whims—as sinful.

Further, profanity is said to be the speech of a culture—the language of certain identity groups. It seems insensitive to call it sinful. But the fact remains that the Christian Bible treats profanity extensively and seriously as sin.

That said, it is important to understand what is meant by profanity before we go around calling it wrong and stomping on cultural and linguistic toes. Profane speech, in its Biblical context, is any unholy talk. To be holy is to be set apart, completely pure and different—like God. “Obscene,” “corrupt,” “crooked,” “filthy,” “foolish,” “irreverent” words—to borrow a few adjectives from scripture—are considered unholy and are to be left unspoken by those who follow Christ.

Just like it would feel improper to use a Van Gogh as a dartboard or a kazoo for a Debussy sonata, the mouth of a Christian is to be set apart for God-honoring speech.

It should be understood that language and its usage do change with time and culture. For instance, the word “damn” has grown in its potency since the morally conscious Dickens centered a humorous character of Nicholas Nickleby around its usage and C.S. Lewis chose a variation of it as the third-to-last word in his children’s book, The Magician’s Nephew.

Words can be more or less profane depending on the country in which they are used or even the city. But these are exceptions and are becoming rarities. The digital dissemination of mainstream culture across the English-speaking world has begun to standardize obscene language, and it is not difficult for the Christian to discover what words and phrases are currently considered obscene.

There is the argument that profanity is a vital part of certain cultures and identity groups. But it is important to differentiate between cultural variations within Biblical morals and cultures that promote immoral practices. Just because something is a part of a culture does not make it right in the sight of God.

For the Christian, pluralism must have limits. If a people group were to declare wife-beating vital to its citizens’ identity, God’s word on a husband’s gentle, sacrificial love for his wife would not quietly step aside.

On the other hand, we must make allowance for cultural changes. Certain words and phrases a Bible Belt Baptist may consider offensive may be used daily in good conscience by someone near Mack Avenue, Detroit without sin being involved. To borrow and change a popular phrase, “It’s partially relative.”

Where socially fabricated “cuss words” are involved, it is more about the heart of the speaker than the word spoken; though, in the spirit of Romans 14, the speaker should defer to the conscience of anyone in hearing distance who might take offense at your language. Cussing to assert your freedom to cuss in front of those who think it wrong is bad manners and morally reprehensible.

Is profanity a problem that should be addressed in others’ lives or is it just personal? Above, I compared profanity to wife beating. That was slightly unfair. Profanity is not on the same plane as wife beating. There is nothing relative about the immorality of beating your wife. And while profanity is sinful no matter the culture, it can be tricky (though doable) to address its use in those around you.

Christians can fall into one of two errors regarding profanity: overemphasizing it at the expense of more pressing issues or underemphasizing it to the point of encouraging sin.

Christians can fall into one of two errors regarding profanity: overemphasizing it at the expense of more pressing issues or underemphasizing it to the point of encouraging sin. I think becoming more holy and spirit-filled will include becoming less profane, but a Christian should proceed with gentleness, balance and caution when confronting the sin in others.

Of course, profanity is more than “cuss words.” It includes “crude joking” and “irreverent babble,3” for they fall into the unholy category. Just because something is so funny it makes you laugh out loud and roll on the floor laughing (weird to see those written out?), that pleasure does not justify an off-color joke.

Again, it’s partially relative, and it is not the task of this article to define the line you can’t cross. Seek to please God with your whole heart (and mouth), and you may find that line begins to be less interesting to you. The same holds true in the use of God’s name.

As you seek and are filled with goodness—one of those delicious fruit of the spirit—you will learn to know when it is flippant to say His name and when it is reverent.

Shared Post: The Discussion of Sacred or Secular by Jimi Williams

Shared Post: The Discussion of Sacred or Secular by Jimi Williams posted May 31, 2013 (found here)

I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between sacred and secular. Christians love to put things into neat little boxes. I think this somehow gives us a sense of security and sureness that we are living our lives correctly.

With music, art or books we try especially hard to place each person’s creative work into the proper category. Of course, to do this we need rules – lots of rules. Here are some examples:

  • If you sing about Jesus, then you are a ”Christian artist”
  • If your book is sold in Lifeway, then you are a “Christian author”
  • If your CD does not mention Jesus or God or isn’t performed by a “Christian artist” (see definition above), then it’s “secular” music
  • If your art doesn’t include a cross, a depiction of Jesus or some other religious symbol, then it’s “secular”
  • If you sing music on Sunday morning at church, you have a “sacred” job, but if you sing music on Friday night at a local pub, you have a “secular” job.

The problem with our rules is that they are based on our own ideas and change over time. I remember 20 years ago all the outcry over drums in a worship service because “drums were secular and therefore of the devil!” I also remember the outcry against Jars of Clay when the song, “Flood” crossed over and took off at mainstream radio and a bunch of unsaved people started coming to their shows. Oh no!

Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The earth and all its people belong to him.”

If everything belongs to God, who are we to say what is not sacred? God says,”I made that. It’s for my glory. Therefore, it is sacred to me.” What if there was just one category and we viewed life as if everything was sacred? How would this affect the way we did business, the way we treated our lost neighbor or the way we appreciated someone’s creative work?

Shared Post: How to Influence Others for Good by Jeremy Statton

Dear Readers,

I stumbled on this article this morning and rather that attempt to write something similar, I figured I would just share it. Jeremy Statton points to message he heard given by Andy Stanley (see below) on how we treat others directly impacts their lives for good or bad. I’ve been working through some of this in my walk with God and my treatment of others…especially how I think they should be treating me back.

We have a tendency to expect from others what we expect of ourselves. I know I do and this is a hurdle I’m currently working through. I’m slowly learning that I can’t expect others, especially those closest to me, to treat me the same way I treat them. I need to first, love them the way God calls me to and in doing so, forgive them. I also cannot do that by my own power. I need to allow God to love them through me. I need to allow Him to meet me in my weakness.

My hope and prayer for you is that He’ll do the same for you. Enjoy the following (found here):

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How to Influence Others for Good – August 13, 2013
Posted by Jeremy Statton with Living Better Stories

Who are the people who have influenced your life the most? For good? Or for bad?

Your life is filled with relationships. Most do not affect you. They are acquaintances. Only people you know.

But there is a smaller group of people that have impacted you. They have shaped you. They have played a role in your becoming the person you are. Whether positive or negative, knowing them has left a permanent imprint on you.

Why do some affect you so much?

In one of my favorite messages, Andy Stanley tells us why. It isn’t about what those people believed. It isn’t about knowledge. The people who have had the greatest impact on your life can be divided into one of two categories:

Those that have hurt you. And those that have loved you.

The People that Have Hurt You

There are those who have caused you harm. They damaged you. Your life is worse for knowing them. And the impact is lasting.

You have been scarred by them. And that hurt can be difficult to get over. Sometimes the hurt and the pain runs so deep it can take years to move on. Sometimes you can’t.

Sometimes the hurt is intentional. Sometimes it isn’t.

Sometimes the hurt comes from someone you expect it from. Sometimes it comes from the ones you love. The ones you thought loved you.

The People that Have Helped You

There are also people who have influenced you for good.

A parent that loved you unconditionally.
A spouse that always quick to forgive.
A teacher that saw something good in you and encouraged you to fly higher.
A boss who recognized your hard work and showed appreciation.

All of these saw something good in you. They encouraged you. They supported you. They reached down and helped you. They gave of themselves in such a way, it made you want to do something better. It made you want to do more.

These are the types of people who make you want to live a better story.

And they did it because they loved you. They gave sacrificially. They gave without expecting in return. They worked for your good. They were patient and kind. Sometimes they even loved you at the expense of themselves.

And you will never forget them.

How to Influence Others for Good

One of Stanley’s main points is that you can, and do, have influence on others. Through your relationships, you are impacting the people you know.

It is easy to get caught up on ideas. It is fun to fill our heads with knowledge of how things should be. But what we believe about the world or about God, isn’t the key component to influence others for good.

How you affect others, whether for good or bad, has less to do with what you believe and more to do with how you treat them.  Your words and actions can influence others in two different ways. You can either hurt them. Or you can love them.

If you choose to help, Stanley suggests a question to ask yourself in any given situation or relationship.

“What does love require of me?”

Shared Post: At Last by Beth Grabenkort

Happy Monday world! I couldn’t help but share this entry (found here) as I’ve been there a time or two myself having played at multiple weddings over the years. Great insight.

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For all of us, life is about timing — God’s, not ours.

“At last, my love has come along…” —Etta James

I had no idea that I have as many friends as weddings I’ve attended over the past 10 years. Nevertheless, I recently found myself at another of these joyous occasions for a girl I had met and befriended at church. She was barely a year out of college and was settling down with her high school sweetheart. This particular wedding was of the traditional nature — the poofy dress, the roses, the tuxes and the orchestral music.

Once the ceremony ended and we moved to the fellowship hall reception, I settled in with my tiny plate of food and began chatting with the people at my table. When the time came for the bride and groom’s entrance, we all stood and listened to the DJ croon into the microphone his announcement of the happy couple. Then the radiant pair floated through the breezeway and sailed to the dance floor.

As the opening notes of the first dance song sounded, I found myself nearly choking on my Sprite-and-pineapple-juice punch. Their first dance song was “At Last.” At last. At last? They were 22! How long had they been waiting? The ink had barely dried on the thank-you notes for their college graduation gifts. What did they know about truly waiting and finally receiving?

This thought continued to nag me like a buzzing insect until something else began to occupy my irritation: I was forced to join the few other single girls on the dance floor to catch the wedding bouquet. Because I loathe feeling like a member of a herd of cattle, I tried my best to escape to the bathroom and hide in a stall until the event had passed. But someone discovered me and dragged me to the dance floor where, much to my chagrin, a 10-year-old girl jumped in front of me and caught the bouquet — because, as everyone knows, 10 year olds know even more about waiting than 22 year olds.

Driving home from the wedding, I became irritated with myself. I started thinking about perspectives and how my own limited viewpoint can so often cloud my judgment. Everyone, at various points in his or her life, will face “at last” moments. At last, I’m graduating from high school and can start college. At last, I’m graduating from college and can start a real job. At last, I’m dating someone I really love. At last, I’m having a baby and starting a family of my own.

It’s not my job to correlate when someone gets something with how much she’s able to appreciate it. To my friend, it was an “at last” moment. At last, she was spending the rest of her life with the man she loved. She was rejoicing in that. And so should I.

The truth is that for all of us, life is about timing — God’s, not ours. Sometimes I feel ready for an “at last” moment while God is telling me to wait. He may bring that moment one day, or He may not. But my life is not on hold until whatever I want to happen happens. God has me where I am right now for a divinely appointed purpose — mainly, to make me more like Him.

It’s not that God doesn’t understand and care that I may not be exactly giddy about where He has me right now. He sees me, He hears me, and He even uses my frustration as a reminder that life in this world is unfulfilling because I was created for a much better world.

Until the moment comes when He welcomes me into my real home, I will continually search for the fulfillment of “at last” moments, thinking that if I can just get to the next level, then I can breathe deeply. Once I get that diploma, that job, that family, then my life can begin. But one day, when I’ve entered the world in which He created me to dwell, I will really be able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that He has instantly met my every desire. My heart will long for nothing ever again except to continually sing my Father’s praises. Only then will I lean back with arms outstretched and finally be able to say, “At last!”

 

Copyright 2013 Beth Grabenkort. All rights reserved.