Discipleship

What Maturity Level are You At?

What Maturity Level are You At

The Bible implies there are 3 levels of maturity in your walk with Him. Paul addresses these 3 levels in 1 John 2:12-14:

I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Do you see these 3 levels of maturity? children, young people, and fathers. We all fit into one of these levels. Here is my description of these 3 levels of maturity.

Children – New Christians (your sins have been forgiven). They are mostly takers from other Christians. They expect other people to meet their needs instead of trying to meet their own needs. They are not real interested in finding out God’s purpose for them. They are still living the life they led before they got saved.

Young People – Been a Christian for a time and have done some spiritual warfare (overcome the evil one). They give as much as they take with other Christians. They have started doing things for God and finding their purpose. They are in a season concentrated on accomplishing things for God and others.

Fathers – Have discipled other Christians. Can’t be a Father without reproducing spiritual offspring. They are primarily givers to other Christians. They are reproducing themselves in others. This is a mark of maturity because their primary focus is helping others find their purpose instead of concentrating on theirs. They have learned the highest purpose is to help others find theirs. They can do this because their identity is no longer in what they do because they have come to know him who is from the beginning.

What do you think? Which level are you at?

Church

What Kind of Wine is Your Church?

What Kind of Wine is Your Church

Could Churches be Like Wines?

He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ Luke 5:36-39

This blog probably has no practical value. It is only the ramblings of my brain. But sometimes it is good to go on a hike that leads to nowhere. Although…the Bible does imply we are wine and when we come together we are a wineskin. So maybe…there is some practical value.

There are many types of wines. The grape used and the goals of the wine maker determines the outcome of the wine. There are 3 broad types of wines. Could there be 3 broad types of churches?

White Wines – Lower alcohol content and low acidity. Higher sweetness. Easiest type of wine to drink and is drunk the most.

Rose and Light Red Wines– Medium alcohol content with a balance of sweetness and acidity. They provide more ‘kick’ and are to be eaten with heavier foods.

Red Wines – High alcohol content and high acidity with little sweetness. Eaten with heavy foods like steak. Takes longer to acquire the taste.

There is no right form of church. It is to a reflection of the leaders, God’s purpose, the truths emphasized, and the culture it is in. But churches also come in multiple varieties like wine.

White Wine Churches – Easier to drink. Everyone enjoys them. There is lots of sweetness with low acidity. Worship is more laid back.

Rose or Light Red Wine Churches – These churches are a little stronger and demand more if you are going to attend them.

Red Wine Churches– Intense churches usually evidenced by an emphasis on discipleship and finding your gift and using it. Most red wine churches are an acquired taste. Worship is usually an intense affair.

Break Up Your Drinking – I Mean Church – Routine And Try Something Different

Isn’t it nice to have different types of wines? Isn’t it nice to have different types of churches? While we have our preferences in church ever once in a while change your routine and try a different church. It’s fun to see what others are drinking. You will benefit by adding variety to your drinking. Each church has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. As you visit around you will learn some things to take back to your church.

By the way what type of wine is your church?

I remember when I first drank a real red wine. I did not like it at but now it is what I prefer. I know it’s an acquired taste but I enjoy drinking heavy red wines. It’s the same with churches. Drink – Go – with an open mind and see what happens. Drink on!

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;” John 15:5

Miscellaneous

How to Run to Win! – Winners Compete With Themselves Not Others

How to Run to Win

Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NLT) 

Many Christians live their lives as if it’s a lottery system. They hope someday their lucky number will be called and they will win big. Unfortunately it is not true. To win you have to run the race of life according to God’s guidelines.

In God’s kingdom everybody has equal opportunity. We don’t all have the same gifts, education, or background, but with God it doesn’t matter. His equality of opportunity is He wants to work through you to make up the difference. God has given you everything you need if you’ll work and seek Him out..

Here is one trait about winners I want to share with you today:

Winners Compete With Themselves, They Don’t Compete With Others

Measure yourself against God’s will for your life and not how well you are doing against others. If you measure yourself against others you may beat them, but you will lose with God.

Instead ask what can I do to be a better husband, a better father, a better pastor, a better business person, what can I do to bring God more Glory, to get God’s word out there more, what can I do?  Constantly ask yourself, “What is God’s will for my life in these areas first and not what everybody else thinks.” At your judgment you will not be compared to others but the standard God has for you.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) 

Trust me, you will not care about anybody else at the Judgement. When you compete with others you are placing the control and destiny of your life into their hands, because where they go, you go instead of where God wants you to go.

To compete with others one of two things are going to happen. Your going to lose in comparison to them and your going to get envious and frustrated. If you do better than them, then your going to get prideful, there’s no two ways about it. So either one of them is wrong.

Do what God asks you to do to the best of your ability and that is all God asks you to do. Leave others and their will to God. Only look out for yourself and what you are doing. If you do this in the end you will win!

Go run your race and win!

Miscellaneous

Are You Feeling Misty Eyed?

Are You Feeling Misty?

I was reading in James 4 and verse 14 spoke to me and made me misty eyed.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

It’s true. We are but a “mist”. In other words, life is short. We’re here and then we’re gone. I could see how, at first glance, this verse might be a bit depressing. But for me it’s motivating.

It’s a reminder not to waste the days we’ve been given because each one is a gift.

It’s a reminder to invest my life in the things that matter the most.

It’s a reminder to make this one and only life count.

Life is short. Time is precious.

Your life is but a mist.

It’s time to become misty eyed.

Work Place

All Work is Spiritual Not Just Church Work!

All Work is Spiritual Not Just Church Work

I want to talk about a myth of Christianity: Only Church Work is Spiritual!

Fact: Christianity makes no distinction between the “sacred” and the “secular.”

There is no secular – all of life is supernaturally purposed and effective.

Don’t believe that everyday work in the “secular world” has no lasting value and only “sacred” work matters to God. I graduated from college 30 years ago. During those 30 years there were two 18 month stretches – one in 1988 and then one in 2002 – where I worked full time in ‘Church Work’. During the other 27 years I have worked in the business world.

Those 27 years were just as spiritual as those 3 years working in the ‘church’. Your choice is not in the ministry or in business. It’s all ministry! We are all full time Christian workers.

Where did this Split Come From?

In 312 A.D., during the early reformation period, the Catholic church elevated the spiritual at the expense of the secular, creating a dualism (two worlds) of belief. This belief said the spiritual had greater value than the secular. This is where the term “full-time Christian work” was introduced. The result led to the separation of church and state and the sacred versus secular view of work and calling.

When we walk with God everything we are, everything we do, and everything we live for is Godly. Could this be true? Yes! Could vacations, playing with our kids, and preaching all be God? Yes!

Dennis Doyle, CEO of The Welsh Companies, a real estate sales and management firm in Minneapolis, says “There’s a new paradigm,” Doyle says. “God’s calling people into the marketplace. A lot of us in business thought we had to leave our business if we want to be in ministry. But we are sure that God can use our business for ministry.”

God wants His principles to invade all of life just like in the Garden of Eden. I have begun to understand God’s kingdom is not confined to the four walls of the church. It exists wherever men acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and King. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke17:21). It goes with you wherever you go.

Jesus also told us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If we take this literally, our goal must be nothing less than the transformation of society. All work is Christian!All Work is Spiritual Not Just Church Work

Church

Life or Marketing?

Life or Marketing

I recently observed in my reading of the gospels that Jesus never marketed his ministry. I am not against advertisement, Facebook events, commercials, etc. But the thought did lead me to question how his fame went around the country.

It seems like his fame came about for one reason – He had life.

He had life for healing, He had life for deliverance, He had life in his teaching. Life is contagious. Life spreads by itself. Life needs no hype, manipulation, or emotional momentum. Life brings life.

My second thought was does my own life have life to offer others. 

If it does, then maybe I don’t need to market myself. Maybe to the extent I need to market myself I am covering over my lack of life?

When Jesus fed the 5000 the people did not come to the meeting because food was advertised. The people came because Jesus had something they wanted. It was life for them to travel on their own at their own cost into the middle of a wilderness. It drew them. He fed them physically only when they got hungry.

I am often tempted to substitute marketing tricks for my lack of life. I use them hoping there will be a spiritual change in people’s life. The problem is that spiritual change has to come from something spiritual. A human spirit can only be changed when touched by another spirit.

Father, I pray you will fill me full of your life in order to truly change other people’s lives as Jesus did.

Marriage, Family & Parenting

Marriage – Is it about Happiness?

Marriage - Is it about Happiness

I want to talk about one reason I believe so many marriages don’t last – they get married for the wrong reason. So when the reason they get married doesn’t work out they separate.

I believe many people marry for happiness.  This expectation will set you up for a crisis in your marriage. Happiness is not a foundation you can create a long-lasting relationship on. Happiness goes and comes based on how you feel at the moment. Happiness goes and comes based on circumstances. Happiness can go and come by the minute.

Happiness is also self-centered because it is expecting your partner to make you happy. This wrong foundation is common in America because our society emphasizes being happy is everything and our businesses cater to us. This creates people who are very self-focused.

What happens when 2 people who think this same way get together? Yep, they quickly fight over limited resources then blame the other for the reason they are not happy.

Happiness cannot be the foundation of a relationship.

So Why Should We Get Married?

Unconditional Love

Giving and receiving unconditional love is the first priority of marriage. Marriage is a little model of what Jesus does for us. As we unconditionally love someone else we grow as a person and we model an unselfishness that Jesus has for us. This unconditional love drives true progress in the world. Read Ephesians 5:25-33 for Jesus’ example of love for us and how He compares it to marriage.

God gives unconditional love to the entire race, we then give it to our spouse, and then our offspring.

Our wedding vows talk about this unconditional love. We are born with the capacity to give unconditional love because we are made in the image of God. Sin and separation from God devastated our ability to give this. But we still cry out to be loved unconditionally. We cannot truly do this without Him flowing through us. We walk around with a need for this love but no one to give it unless they learn how by walking with God.  

Marriage is about doing what is right not what feels good. It’s unrealistic to think we can always do what feels good. This is a deception. Commitment always produces rewards over time.

Companionship Through the Good and the Bad

Out of unconditional love comes the 2nd purpose for marriage – companionship. God said in Genesis it is not good for man to be alone. We all need companionship. Companionship is only as deep as the understanding that the other person will not leave you when things don’t go our way. This is unconditional love! The key is to walk through life together in whatever it brings not expecting the other person to make us happy. The ‘stuff’ of life is going to happen whether single or married. It’s better to walk through this with someone else who is a friend than doing it alone.

Marriage is about Stability

Every sociologist or historian that is honest will tell you when a society moves away from marriage and the family unit as the basis of society it always ends in chaos. No other system works. Period. They may work for a time but not very long.

Marriage is About Happiness

Marriage should not be based on happiness but it can produce more happiness than any other type of relationship. As two people allow God to change them into more mature people, marriage beats whatever is in second place!