Friday, June 22, 2012

The Choice Between My Way or HIS Way

Probably the overwhelming struggle of the Christian life boils down to those five words—my way or His way.
Recently I read where a pastor was counseling a godly young lady who put the struggle very wisely. She was wrestling to open her heart to new possibilities that God was bringing into her life. She was so fixed on her way for so long, she discovered that her heart had become closed to God leading into any other options.
Here’s how she put it: “The struggle is that my heart is closed to other options because it is so fixed upon the one I wanted… even though God is closing that door.”
Sometimes I see people having a choice to make between something that is right and something that is wrong. It is a blessing to watch people choose God's right way; in contrast, it is very sad to see when they choose the wrong way. What makes this battle even harder? The fact that your way and His way may both be “good options.” Our decision struggles and personal will struggles are usually not a battle between good and bad options, but rather between two great options! So often, we get fixed on our will, believing that it’s “good” therefore it’s God’s.
We impose our own “good” will upon Him rather than surrendering to His good will.
The problem comes when God interrupts the script, calls us to set aside our “good” will and surrender to His. Now that’s painful. That’s often grueling. (Think: Abraham climbing Mount Moriah with his only son…)
“Wait, God… but my way is good! My way is spiritual! My way is better, even for YOU!” That’s what we want to say, perhaps even with tears.
(How silly we are to think that our finite minds can challenge the great infinite heart of God!)
But then He says, “Let the Lord do that which is good in His sight.” (1 Chron. 19:13) In other words, “Let me do what I want to do, what is good to me, whether you see the good or not.” My definition of “good” may not always match up with God’s. Bummer!
It’s very painful to let go of what is “good in my sight” to grasp what is “good in His sight.” Especially, when I can’t see what He sees. It’s easier to grasp my good will because it’s what I can see. His good will is usually an invitation to venture into the unknown. And that’s scary.
In the end, no matter how my human calculations conclude that my will is good, God’s version of good is always best.
Be careful about boxing yourself in to your own good plan. God has a way of interrupting our good plans with a little thing we would call His eternal purpose.
And we certainly wouldn’t want to be inconvenienced by that! Would we?
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
(adapted and personalized)

Friday, May 4, 2012

10 Marks of a Godly Mature Dating Relationship

It is always exciting to see how God’s will for our older youth and young adults unfolds in each of their lives. As a part of His plan, God allows faithful young adults to be given a spouse as they strive to be the right kind of person. I believe the following thoughts of a mature dating relationship are principles and standards of conduct that will most honor God. I hope these thoughts will be a blessing to you.
The marks of a mature dating relationship (after high school *) are as follows:
*Just because one is out of high school doesn’t mean they are automatically ready for a mature dating relationship. Godly counsel and a willingness to adhere to Biblical principles is a must.

1. Regular times of prayer and Bible reading as individuals first, and sharing Biblical truth as a couple.

2. Respect and honor for all the standards held by godly, Biblical authorities (examples: flee youthful lusts, keep hands off each other, don’t be alone at each others’ living quarters, etc.). Ask your pastor for counsel in this area.

3. Relationship encourages strengthened character.

4. Enjoy being with godly friends, especially from church, and those in authority - not on a quest to be “alone” – stay involved in church life.

5. Relationship development does not impede work ethic – be faithful in your job (as long as it doesn’t hinder your faithfulness to the Lord**) and pay your bills on time.

**If you can’t remain faithful to the Lord (and that includes church), it’s time to seek the Lord for another job.

6. Preaching and teaching is gladly received.

7. Friends and acquaintances are strengthened spiritually because they know you – spend time with godly friends – again evade alone time.

8. Respect for each other would not allow for insensitive, tactless speech - godliness is not just a church word.

9. Use of technology is not obsessive - when others are present the relationship is secure enough that you don’t have to be obsessive toward each other.

10. Realization that saying “I love you” is meaningless if the relationship is not mature in the nine principles listed above.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Are You Willing To Pay The Price?

The age old story goes like this: A hog and a hen sharing the same barnyard heard about a church’s program to feed the hungry. The hog and the hen discussed how they could help. The hen said, “I’ve got it! We’ll provide bacon and eggs for the church to feed the hungry.” The hog thought about the suggestion and said, “There’s only one problem with your bacon and eggs solution. For you, it only requires a contribution, but from me, it will mean total commitment!”

That’s the cost of true discipleship—total commitment. When Jesus left the Pharisee’s house, great crowds followed Him, but He was not impressed. He knew most of them were not interested in spiritual things. They wanted to see a miracle or get a free meal from Him.

Jesus turned to the multitude and preached a sermon (Luke 14:25-35) that deliberately thinned out the crowd. He was looking for those who were willing to pay the price of true discipleship or those who were committed to following Him no matter what was required.

In verse 27, He challenged them to live like a dead man. A real disciple is someone who carries his cross. Many Christians are confused today about what it means to carry a cross. Some have said, “I have migraine headaches, but I guess it’s just the cross I must bear.” Today, the cross has become benign—a piece of harmless jewelry. In Jesus’ time, it was a horrible, agonizing, tortuous mode of execution. It was the noose, the electric chair, or the lethal injection of His day. In the time of Jesus when you saw someone carrying a cross it meant one and only one thing—they were as good as dead.

We are to die to self. The Bible says in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” You cannot offend a dead man! That means there is nothing the world has to offer you that interests you—it’s as if the world is dead to you and you are dead to the world.

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”—Psalm 119:165

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Faith Focus for April 2

March: Being Joyful

Galatians 1:10
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

What controls you? The allure of the world, the apathy of Christians, the accusations of Satan, or the approval of God?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Faith Focus for March 26

March: Being Obedient

Acts 5:29
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Obedience without faith is possible, but not faith without obedience.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Faith Focus for March 19

March: Being Obedient

1 Samuel 15:22
...Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice...

God supplies anything God demands.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Faith Focus for March 12

March: Being Obedient

Jeremiah 7:23
...walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

God is willing to assume full responsibility for the life that is totally yielded to Him.