Posted by: wisconsinway | November 12, 2008

A Different Mindset

One of my youth asked me to write about the Bible.  How it has helped me and what it means to me.  Also, I was asked if I would write about Luke 12:22-34.  So here it is.. This is a great passage in scripture!

Luke 12:22-34

1) The Bible has been very helpful to me! The Bible has been helpful to me because it is words from God’s own mouth about (Truth). And I know that it might sound like a very simple statement, but it means everything. As a Christian, I believe that everyday I am faced with an opportunity to chose to live out Truth, or false in the world that I live. And it is so important what I decide to live out in my life because unbelievers and other Christians are either being encouraged in their lives towards Truth, or false belief systems! The Bible leads people to an eternal salvation and speaks of a Kingdom that is not of this world! It is a mindset that is eternal and is worth so much more then we can ever imagine!

1b) I have used the Bible to try and bring God’s Kingdom down on to this earth.  I have felt it has been hard some times.  I belive it is hard sometimes because Truth at times can sound idiotic to people and cause them to disbelieve, because the ideas seem so different!  I have used the Bible to teach in youth group.  I have used the Bible to- speak outloud to myself to encourage, strengthen, and fight off evil thoughts.  I have used the Bilbe to praise God, pray, encourage others, and strengthen others in the faith. 

2) I have used the story of Luke 12:22-34 before in personal Bible study, teaching for youth group, as well as in leading a mission trip to Louisiana and helping out in a mission trip to Venezuela.

2b) What happened when I used it was pretty incredible and different each time!  But what happened each time was to start our minds thinking not on the hear and now, but on forever and the eternal perspectives of a different kingdom.  At times it felt for me that I was taping into a whole different world, because I was thinking more the way God thought, instead of the way I normally think about life! 

4) Overall, I would say the story Jesus is telling His disciples is like watching a movie.  There are the people that make the movie and there are the people who watch the movie.  The people who are in the movie are making actions, speaking and doing things that will be seen by people for a long long time, even after they are dead!  Their actions will be remembered and lived out in other peoples lives.  People will say the lines from movies, and do actions from the movies long after the movie has been watched!  Then also, there are the people who watch the movie.  They are simply taking in the visual aspect of the movie.  They have not felt the pain that Jackie Chan would feel when leaping off a brick wall, or getting hit by a punch to the face…they would only see it. 
I belive that this Bible passage is talking about something like this!  I believe there is a whole different aspect to this world that God longs for Christians to understand.  God wants us to know that we do not need to worry about this life, because there is a whole new life that Jesus gives and it is on the other side of the movie screen.  Jesus wants us to not simply go through life running after things that are of this world, but to live out another world behind the screen of life, which is an eternal beautiful life that cannot be watched, but lived! There is a life that Jesus speaks about that says, do not worry, because if you are a Christian you are taken care of as a shepherd cares for his sheep. Jesus proves that we are taken care of by telling us about the wild flowers, and how they are kept safe and are made beautiful by God’s hand… And we are so much more valuable then the flowers! 
Like a movie, Jesus speaks of a kingdom that will keep going on long after a Christian stops living on this earth, and that the more a Christian tunes their mind to the eternal kingdom of God, the more treasure will be given behind the movie screen!  Behind the movie screen there is joy being given out, peace that passes all understanding, and love that is beyond what we can amagine!  These things are much more fulfilling then a life full of fear in worry and a belief in the worlds possessions that will not last, but will get old and break.

5) I can connect this passage in my faith with a story that happened to me while on a mission trip to Louisiana with the youth group.  We had all been working hard on a construction project on a boat in the harbor in Louisiana after the hurricane had gone through.  And I got talking to the owner of the boat and he told me that he was actually glad that the hurricane had gone through and torn up his boat.  He told me that himself and others in Louisiana had gotten loose in their walk with God, and had started filling up their thoughts and time with the possessions of the world, and had forgotten about sharing the wonderful new life that people could have in Jesus.  He told me that now, after the hurricane, people were flocking into the churches and helping others, instead of thinking of themselves! 
For me, I could clearly see this man talk about a switch in his life from the here and now, to the forever and eternal and it was amazing to hear.  Later that week, our group had the awesome experience to give a house constructed by Mennonite Diasaster Service to a mother and her children for the glory of God.  It was an amazing time because we had the opportunity to tell these people specifically the gospel message!  That just as we were giving this house to her for free, Jesus gave us a free gift as well.  It was a powerful time for me, because I understood clearly that I was living out what I had been taught all my life.  I knew that I was giving to the kingdom of God something that would last forever, and I was not watching the movie, I was a real servant (actor) for God!

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Posted by: wisconsinway | February 20, 2008

Judging Others

 

Romans 2:1-16

I was amazed when I was told that Romans 2:1-16 was the passage for the Hayward Youth Bible study that I was helping out with.  And to be totally honest, I can’t really tell you why I was amazed.  This passage just really lined up with a lot of things that have been happening around me.

 This passage talks primarily about the dangers of judging others.  The first part of the passage says that a person has “no excuse” before God if they pass judgment on another person, because all humans are guilty sinners who can only be saved by God.  If we all have been saved by God, shouldn’t the judging be left to God who can free people from their sins?

“God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” v.4

The thing about judging others that I have been finding out, is that when I see someone who I believe is sinning, I should make me first think about my own sinfulness and ask God for forgiveness in my own life.  So, in actuality the best way to help someone deal with their sinfulness, is to lead them back into repentance to their savior, Jesus and to continue their relationship with the God who has forgiven them from their sins.

I think a lot of times it is easy to try to take things on ourselves and take on the “I am better then you” aspect, and make a mess of everything.  But the fact is, we all struggle with the same things, so we need to always direct fellow Christians to the heart of the matter, which is their broken relationship with their God, that draws them away from their source of life! 

A good illustration to help you understand what I am talking about comes from a technique that my brother uses with his amazing volleyball team that he coaches.  The ultimate goal that he wants to accomplish with his players is to have them not eat junk food, stay healthy, and stay in shape, so that they can play at their best in their games!  My brother could have told all his players to stay away from junk-food, and to eat only certain healthy things so that they could play well!  But you know how it is with people, if they are told they are not eating right, and must stay away from certain kinds of food, they really want to have it!  So, the best solution…was for my brother to tell all his players to drink lots and lots of Water!!!  Now, I don’t know if you know the things that water can do to you, but water does a lot for a person.  Water makes a person want to work out, so that they can get rid of all the water through sweating.  Water makes a person full, so that they do not want a lot of unhealthy food.  Water nourishes and makes a person strong, so that they can function well.

So, the solution in staying away from judging others I believe is leading them to the source of their life!  Instead of telling them all the sinful things that they are doing in their life, and must stop doing, maybe a better solution would be to help remind them where their power comes from. (1)Remind them who their Savior is.  (2)Remind them of the commitment they have made to their Savior.  (3)Try to understand where the person is in their life, and where they are going. (4) don’t be afraid to get into the mess of the other Christian’s life, in order to lead them closer to God! (5)Keep thinking of God’s kindness towards us and our own sinfulness. This leads us to repentance in our own life.

*According to God’s kindness towards us, how should we treat others?

Remind yourself of God’s great kindness towards you for saving you from the same sin you see in another person’s life, and be willing to get messy, and help them closer to their Savior’s Living Water Supply! 

Posted by: wisconsinway | February 6, 2008

A Christian’s Character

 

CHARACTER.  Does it matter? 

A Christians actions either draw them closer or farther from God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

A person’s thoughts, attitudes, and actions will either draw them to be more or less like Jesus!  Everything must be done to the glory of God.  There should be no division of sacred and the secular.  Character isn’t personality.  It takes more then a good personality to influence people for Christ.  It takes godly character!

Above is a picture that represents how godly character works.  The fruit on the tree is personality.  The shadow of the tree is a person’s reputation.  But the roots of the tree are the most important and they represent a person’s character!  The roots most be the starting point for the tree, and are the thoughts, attitudes, and actions from God in a Christians life!  God gives His best to those who reflect the beauty of His Holiness. –2 Chronicles 16:9 

The fruit is the Holy Spirit being revealed in the Christians life to benifit others and continue the work of God in the world.

Holiness is wholeness.  Holiness is being exactly who God has created Christians to be.  For instance, a chair is created by a chair maker for the purpose of people being able to sit on it.  However, people sometimes take the chair and use it for other purposes that the chair was not nesseraly created for.  Sometimes people stand on the chair, use the chair to lock people out by placing it in front of a door,  or a lion tamer can use a chair to tame lions.  But the real purpose of the chair is to be sat on!  The same is true with God and our relationship with Him in the view of holiness.  God’s purpose for us is to be holy and set apart for Him.  This seems very unatural for Christians in today’s world because all this time people have been disfiguring and tainting the good things God wants for us.  The natural and normal way of a Christian is to be holy, just like God is holy!  

Sometimes it is easy for Christians to remember the normal use of our bodies, and the purpose that God has calls for.  So I just thought I would write this, with the analogy and picture of this amazing fruit tree.  

Posted by: wisconsinway | February 1, 2008

Christian Maturity

“That we may present every man perfect [mature] in Christ Jesus.” Col. 1:28

 This passage shows the importance of strengthening oneself in their relationship with Christ and to become mature in Him.  Then also, how “Ministry” takes place when mature Christians lead and encourage younger Christians into a stronger relationship of constant communication with God!  Paul in this passage above shows that this is his ultimate goal in his life!

How do we bring Christians into maturity?

“In Spite of what some “success preachers” say, God’s goal for our lives in not money, but maturity, not happiness, but holiness, not getting, but giving.” Wiersbe

A Christian is born into the family of God, and then must be discipled to mature in Christ.  The maturing part will be the decisions the new Christian makes to tap into God’s power, based on how the mentoring Christian feeds them, by the way they live and what they say.  This will encourage the new believer to make decisions to read God’s Word, Pray, and live out God in their lives through the Holy Spirit.

“Ministry means that God uses us to create a spiritual atmosphere that encourages others to grow and become fruitful in the Lord.” Wiersbe

“Leadership is a serving relationship that has the effect of racilitating human development.  Dr. Ted Ward

Ministry is all about making a good invironment where new Christians can grow and be encouraged to seek after God!  Because they will grow only by their own Decisions that they make for God.  It will be their choices of their minds and their attitudes and their actions that will be what allows them to mature in their relationship with God.

I think that so many times in ministry, organizations try to lead new Christians to maturity without having them do anything.  They have so many programs and events for new Christians to come to that they really never have to choose to make a good decisions or make choices that help them grow in their relationship with God, even though that is what ministry is all about!  Ministry starts when an actual young Christian desires to make decisions to work at their relationship with God.  It is not going to a certain number of youth groups events, or enough church services, although this is excellent in creating a longing in them!  But real discipling ministry happens I believe when a Christian makes their own decisions every day to take a step towards God!  So, maybe the best ministry happens when a new Christian sees the life of a beliver in motion.   They see the attributes and actions demonstrated in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and selfcontrol displayed in the life of a mature Christians life.  Maybe the best way to do ministry is, the way Jesus did! Spending days, weeks, months, years, living and being with younger Christians and helping them to grow by showing them just how great it is to “be” a Christian! 

I think a lot of times church ministries can get so overloaded with events youth groups, choir practice, praise band practice, church services, fundraisers, etc.. that new Christians see a business, and sense of lack of trust in God to supply their needs!  This lack of trust then carries over to the new believers, and they have then been mentured to believe that they must do certain church service rituals instead of making decisions to constantly meditate on God’s Word, Pray, and love God and others!  I think that Christians could get a lot more Christ like maturity accomplished in the lives of new believers if they would do less!  Maybe less is more!  Maybe a Christian should simply share their own life more with new Christians.  Maybe Praying more, Worshiping God more in a Christians everyday life would be the best ministry that could ever happen, and disciple new believers in God’s love!

 I believe that Jesus wants Mature Christians to display His work in their lives by living among others so that they may see and hear about God, and long to know Him better!

Posted by: wisconsinway | January 30, 2008

Offensive Christian?

  •  

  • Romans 6:13 (New International Version)

  • “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”
  • Become a pure white rose first, so that you can be a weapon used by God!
  • As I am continuing in reading this book I am really enjoying the parts of the Bible that Warren is bringing out.  This passage is important v.13, because it is a specific command to Christians to be holy for God.  And the amazing work of Christ is, that when a Christian is lets go of themselves, and looks to Christ for their strength, they will be a great instrument for God to use for His glory!
  • The word that I want to focus on most in this passage though is the word “instrument.”  As Christians we all want to be used by God to serve Him.  But what does that mean?  The word “Instrument” in this passage is pretty amazing if you understand what the meaning is behind it.  Instrument in this passage can be translated “Tool” or “Weapon.”  So, then after a Christian has been continually filling themselves with God’s Holiness, they are great “Tools” or “Weapons” for God to use for His glory!
  • “A holy minister is a awful weapon in the hand of God.” Robert M’Cheyne
  • In Isaiah 49:2 Jesus is described as a sword or a polished arrow.  So, this is amazing when we think about what this means for Christians, if we believe that we are called to be followers of Jesus.  This means that we are a weapon, to invade a battleground of evil, to be used in incredible ways for God.  There are many different stories in the Bible that demonstrate that people used by God are incredible weapons for Him.  David is a great example where God wanted Him to defeat an evil giant who defied God!  David was a weapon who used his sling to accomplish the will of God.  Moses also, was a great weapon where God used him to life his rod over the red sea to part it and demonstrate His power to the world.  
  • I am finding that God longs to use people who have surrendered to God and are willing to be used to be great weapons in His hands.  The way this whole process starts is the act of becoming holy like this passage says.  A person needs to be willing to be different and set themselves apart from the evil so that they can attack it.  A person that is on fire for God is not on the defensive waiting for evil to come after them, but actually on the offensive, looking to destroy the evil, in their own lives, then in the world.  I like the passage that talks about always attacking evil with good, because this is truly the way that a Christian overcomes evil in themselves.  By Looking to God where all goodness comes from, and allowing the goodness to come from God, and overtake a person is the only way to destroy the evilness inside.
  • So what does a holy life look like?  First, to understand what holiness is, you might have to understand what holiness is not.  Holiness is not a person’s reputation.  Wiersby in chapter 9 talks about the fact that Christians sometimes understand a person’s reputation with the fact of holiness in their life.  However, when it all comes down to it, being holy is not found in what other people think of you, only what God thinks of you!  The only one who truly knows if a person is holy or not is God, and that is why a person must use Jesus as the base model to imitate instead of other people.  The process of becoming holy does not rest on the approval of a person’s friends, but only on what God sees in the person’s heart, and actions that are unseen by others.  This then shows the importance of integrity in a person’s life.  Are they living out in secret what they show in front of others?
  • “Life is built on character, but character is built on decisions.  The decisions you make, small and great, do to your life what the sculptor’s chisel does to the block of marble.  You are shaping your life by your thoughts, attitudes, and actions and becoming either more or less like Jesus Christ.  The more you are like Christ, the more God can trust you with His blessing.” Warren Wiersbe
  • Another important fact in my reading this chapter is the fact that God does not make Christians holy for the reason of enjoying themselves.  God specifically wants to do a purifying work and make a Christian more and more holy so that they can be a blessing to others.  I believe that a Christian who is being drawn to holiness by God always leads them to actions of evangelism, and discipleship in their lives!  -Matthew 28:19-20
Posted by: wisconsinway | January 30, 2008

Solitude

Today the challenge during the PBU chapel was to be intentional about seeking solitude with God.  Bible passages 1 John 2:6, and Mark 1:35.

“The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6 

 “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” Mark 1:35

 Solitude- Dictionary Definition

1. The state or quality of being alone or remote from others.
2. A lonely or secluded place.

 The focus in chapel, was that if Christians do call themselves followers of Jesus, then they need to be doing the same “Rhythms” of Jesus that He did in His life here on earth.  A rhythm is described as-“a Movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions.” Jesus actions in His life on earth were linked to His constant regularity of devotion with His Father Jesus!  Jesus did not mess around, He knew where His power came from, and He constantly received from His Father because He made this His priority! As Jesus continually got busier and busier, through healing, teachings, and disciplining His 12 followers, He priorized more and more time to get away and be with His Father. 

I know for myself I was convicted because the busier I would get, the more I kept thinking that I needed more time, and then think I need to spend more time doing, in order to get the projects completed.  However, this is not the way Jesus did things.  There is a great song by Newsong called “Life in My Day” where they sing about the business of a person’s life.  The song says that in order to have a little more life in a person’s day, you need to spend time gaining more of God in your life!  That is exactly what Jesus did.  Jesus regularly spent solitude times just talking and listening in quite moments with the Father, so that He would have a full life instead of having a life that was filled. 

I know that when I look at the world I see people rushing around and going from place to place!  They are bustling about making sure they get everything finished that they want to get finished.  You could say that their lives are ruled by their agenda’s, instead of ruling their own lives through God’s agenda!  Jesus, in His example, did not allow time to rule Him.  Even if Jesus was extremely needed at a particular moment, He would still slip away and have quite times with the Father, because He realized that it was in those times where He received purpose and a filling of God’s goodness in His life.

Do you set aside a day every week for God in Solitude? 

-I am convicted in this as well!  Christians need to continue encouraging Christians to follow in the ways of Jesus and set aside God’s time, and be with Him in solitude on a regular basis!

Posted by: wisconsinway | January 29, 2008

On Being a Servant (2)

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Potter and the Clay

Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 18:4

This Chapter in the book was an encouragement to me that God does not act as a Mechanic in a Christians life, but a Potter! In a Christians life, God does not simply fix your life every time you break down, but everything that we go through is part of God molding and shaping us for His glory!

God keeps remaking us into the perfect image that He desires us to be! Moses is a great example of this. He made many mistakes in his life, however God kept molding him to fulfill the plan that God had for him. The reality is that God is a God of redemption throughout history and uses Christians to accomplish His work! This gives Christians confidence and courage that even when their service seems to be in vain, God is still working to accomplish His purpose.

God does not simply fix aspects of our lives when we break down, but it is a constant process throughout our lives where God remakes us into new vessels. 1 Chronicles 28 is amazing passage that tells king David about building God’s Temple! God told David that he was chosen to build a Temple for Him, and to just do it through God’s power! Verse 20 really illustrates that God will fulfill His promise of building in a Christians’s life! “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.” v.20

I believe that God always keeps His promises, and He is in the business of using Christians to accomplish what He has promised! The important part of this is to make sure that Christians are taking part in building the Temple that God wants to build! We can be working hard in ministry, but it is important that we are building the same Temple that God has promised to use us to build! So, back to the image of the Potter and the Clay. We are God’s piece of clay in His hands. He wants to keep molding us into who He wants. So, in order to be molded, a friend once told me that we need to add water to the clay, so that it is moldable! In order for us to know what God is doing, and to come alongside of Him, and be molded, we need to continue adding the water (Word of God) to our minds to change the way we think!

Posted by: wisconsinway | January 25, 2008

Past Summer Service Trip Newsletter

 During the summer of 2007 I was blessed to have the opportunity to lead my Youth Group down to Louisiana and participate with Mennonite Disaster Service to be a witness of God’s love!  I believe God used the Youth at Swamp Mennonite Church to be His hands and feet to many different people in Louisiana! 

Click here for Newsletter… Swamp Mennonite Newsletter

Posted by: wisconsinway | January 24, 2008

Mingling Together the Old and New

“Jesus said to them,” “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52

A good friend helped me understand this passage better by explaining that Jesus mingles both old and new Truths together, and encouraged His followers in this passage to discover how to do this same thing in the way they live out their lives!

Jesus while on the earth, was all about unity of Truth.  Nothing that He said was against the teachings of the Old Testament.  Jesus brought something that was different to the people, but still was complete Truth and went along with the entire message of the Bible!  In this passage, Jesus asked His disciples if they understand what He is telling them about all these different passages.  They say they do, meaning that they are ready to live it out in their lives!

What is Jesus refering to with the teachers or (scribes) in this passage?

 “They must be scribes who discover the truth”. The scribes began as a noble group under the leadership of Ezra. Their purpose was to preserve the Law, study it, and apply its truths to daily life. Over the years, their noble cause degenerated into a routine task of preserving traditions and man-made interpretations, and adding burdens to the lives of the people (Luke 11:46–52). They were so wrapped up in the past that they ignored the present! Instead of sharing living truth from God’s Word, they merchandised dead doctrines and “embalmed” traditions that could not help the people.”   The Bible Exposition Commentary

Today, Christians are people who have the Truth of God inside of them through the Holy Spirit, but they need to discover what they need to be doing in the world! Christians are called to be people who are continually using all avenues of both traditions of the old way of thinking from the past, as well as new observations of the present that are following after the Way of Jesus!  Both old traditions and new methods of discovering God’s Truth are both correct as long as the Spirit of God is the one doing the work!  A Spirit of God will be one that unites Christians with one another, and does not destroy.  A Christian then, will be a person who “mingles” both the old and the new together as Jesus did.  The new will not be against the old and the old will not defeat the new.  But they will both mingle and work alongside of each other in perfect harmony, because God will be working in the lives of the believers through His Holy Spirit!  

One amazing privilege of a Believer, is to take the Truth of God, and live it out in whatever situation they may find themselves in, because of the Holy Spirit at work in their life! As Christians, the Spirit of Truth will be the guide in helping to mingle together all Truth, which God is constantly accomplishing for His Kingdom!  When a person opens themselves up to constantly looking for Truth in God’s Word and to His Spirit, they will find out what God is doing in the world, and come alongside, and assist in bringing all Truth together, and living it out in their lives, with the help of the power of God! (John 14:6) (John 16:13) (1 John 5:6)

Posted by: wisconsinway | January 23, 2008

Camping Ministry Chapel

Philadelphia Biblical University is a great school!     I don’t know if you have been to any of their chapels, but they are excellent!   Today the air was filled with worship to God as about 900 students participated in giving their voices to singing!  The key speaker talked about camping ministry, and gave some good insight into encouraging Christians to give everything they have to God, because God is their provider and will not leave them hanging.

 ” The house of the wicked will be destroyed, But the tent of the upright will flourish.” Proverbs 14:11

I thought that these pictures were really great visuals to show the difference between the wicked and the upright in the passage above.  How come the wicked get a house, and the upright only gets a tent? 
This question raises the idea that if you had 3 million dollars to spend on 2 homes, and 1 home you would live in for 1 day, and the other home you would live in forever, what would you do with the money? 
The camping minister at PBU said that he would probably spend about $20.00 on food and snacks from Walmart, and then go out behind the store and get a cardboard box out of the dumpster to live in, and that would be his home for 1 day!  Then he would spend the rest of the $2,999,980 dollars on the other Mansion that will be his home forever!
This story was just a great reminder to me, to spend all my resources that God gives me for things that will last, instead of using God’s resources on other things that will be here today, and gone tomorrow.  It is a good reminder to me that the only things that will last are those done for and from God’s Kingdom!   
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

When a person gives all they have and seeks after God’s purposes, God is able to provide for them from His bountiful riches from His glory!  If you are a Christian, then your number 1 desire is for God’s purposes because you are part of His Kingdom.  Then your, true desire will be to obtain and share the abundance of God’s resources to the earth, and possibly choose a good movable tent for a day, over something earthly, which will be destroyed soon. 

 

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