Walking in Unity
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:15-20.
This passage in Ephesians answers a crucial question about a topic that was brought up in chapter 4, verse 3 of Paul’s letter. As believers, we are called to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The question is: How can we, as the body of Christ, walk in unity?
Going Deeper With Your Savior This Year
Beginning a new year always makes you think about your goals and the direction of your life. This year, I want to encourage you to focus on "going deeper" as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Here is what that means to me (it's probably a little different than you are thinking).
Raising the White Flag
"Surrender." This word is rarely used in a positive context. It implies that you are "raising the white flag", giving up, and relinquishing control of your life to someone else. How could you possibly be successful in the workplace, in your decisions, and in your life if you are surrendered to someone else? Isn't it considered a form of weakness?
The Bible teaches the opposite if it is God you are surrendering to.
Jesus Is Building His Church
When a communist came to power in China in the 1950s, all of the missionaries that were currently serving there were expelled from the country. The rest of the Christian world held great concern for the Chinese church because there were only about 1 million weak, weak Christians in the entire country. Without the foreign Christian missionaries there to take care of them, it was assumed that Satan had won, that the church would dry up and blow away, and that Christianity would become basically nonexistent in China.
Start in the Home!
Being a successful leader starts in the home. In the end, you were not a good leader in the workplace if you were not leading well in your home. Deuteronomy 6 gives some advice on how to go about this, especially in regards to our children. It clearly tells us that we need to be teaching our children – which is a no brainer – but it narrows down the subject matter a bit. It does NOT say, “Mike, whatever you do, make sure to teach your children how to play football. If you’ve got to skip church to make sure they know how to play the game, then do it.” Nor does it say “make sure your child is well rounded. You must take them to every ballet practice, academic event, and soccer game that you can, even if it means missing family time.”
Now, it’s not wrong to teach a kid sports, academics, and arts, but these things are not what God is talking about in the passage above. First and foremost, He wants you to put the most time, energy, and resources into teaching your kids His commandments.
You need to be diligent in this – teach them His commandments when you are at home or out running errands, when you lie down and when you rise up, in the morning, in the evening, during the day, when you’re sitting around the dinner table, at bedtime – anytime you have opportunity you need to be teaching them God’s Word.
God, Where Were You When That Happened?
I am a chaplain for the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team and I just recently spent a week at the Cove in Asheville, NC, training for how to minister people who experience natural disasters. While there I heard Erwin (pastor of Moody Bible Church in Chicago) talk about his book, Where Was God?. As I was listening to him speak I was thinking, you know, this is hardly just for people who experience a natural disaster. This is just as much for those who have been through personal disasters in their life and questioned why God allowed it to happen. In fact, this question is not one that just recently popped up on the scene – it’s been around since the very first book of the Bible was written. Psalms 10:1 says “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away and why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” You see, in the past two millennium millions upon millions, and perhaps billions of godly people have lost their homes, have lost their jobs, have lost their possessions, and have lost family members. Many of them have lost their very lives because of the ruthless deeds of evil leaders, and so the question, where was God?
How to Handle Adversity Well
I want to talk with you about how to handle adversity well. Adversity and suffering are what kind of problems? Universal! But even when we know Who the God of adversity is, many of us don’t handle adversity well.
When we look at the life of Christ and how He handled adversity we learn how to handle adversity well. The divorce rate is high because husbands and wives don’t know how to handle adversity well. Obedience, respect and intimacy in a parent-child relationship is often lacking so when adversity comes there is a rift, a falling away in difficult times. We all know people who abandon their relationships when times get tough; even their relationship with the Lord! We all know Christians who claim the name of Christ, but often don’t know how to handle difficult times. And it’s not just the regular Joe Christians - pastors are in the same boat.