Holy Week

We are entering into what is the most important weeks for Christians – a time where Christ told us to REMEMBER, a time to CONFESS, a time to reflect on GRACE and FORGIVENESS, and a time to celebrate RESURRECTION.

I have been following this reading plan for several years during this week. It is simply a chronological remembrance of Christ’s last week before the crucifixion. I share it because of the impact it has had on me. Let me know what God says to you as you read and reflect this week.

Day Events (Traditional) Scriptures
Sunday Triumphal Entry Mt 21:1-11; Mk 11:1-11; Lk 19:29-44; Jn 12:12-19
Monday Fig Tree Cursing
Temple Cleansing
Mt 21:18-22; Mk 11:12-14, 20-24
Mt 21:12-17; Mk 11:15-19; Lk 19:45-48
Tuesday Jesus Questioned/Challenged
Jesus Teaches in Parables
Mt 21:23-22:46; Mk 11:27-12:40; Lk 20:1-47
Wednesday Silent Day 1 Cor 11:23-34; 1 Cor 15
Thursday Passover / Last Supper
Agony in Gethsemane
Betrayal and Arrest
Mt 26:17-35; Mk14:12-31; Lk 22:7-38; Jn 13:1-17:26
Mt 26:36-46; Mk 14:32-42; Lk 22:39-46; Jn 18:1
Mt 26:47-56; Mk 14:43-52; Lk 22:47-53; Jn 18:2-11
Friday Trials
Crucifixion, Death, Burial
Mt 26:57-27:31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:12-19:16
Mt 27:32-61; Mk 15:22-47; Lk 23:26-56; Jn 19:17-42
Saturday Tomb Mt 27:62-66
Sunday Resurrection Mt 28:1-20; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-49; Jn 20:1-23

He is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!

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Chosen and Changed

We have been doing a series at church on each of the apostles – who they were, how they met Christ, what they did, how they were changed by Christ. They were not the best, the ones that conventional wisdom would have said to choose. They had lots of issues, personality flaws, and revolutionary ideas of how the kingdom should come. Yet…

Christ chose each of the apostles for a reason.
Christ changed each of the apostles for a purpose.
Christ chose me – for a reason – why?
Christ changed me – for a purpose – how?

Christ can change anyone and use them to change the world.

Do I believe that I can be changed and used?

I am chosen. I am changed. Am I moving, or simply poised to move?

I need to Just move – take a step forward!

Where are you sitting when you should be moving?

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MissionShift 3 – The Future

This is the last in a series on essays from MissionShift. You can read Ed Stetzer’s initial blog along with David Hesselgrave’s essay here. Feel free to interact with Ed Stetzer’s blog, my blog here, or any of the other bloggers.

Jesus tells us to go into the world, teach others to obey what He taught us, love our neighbors, treat people differently, and more.

Therein lies the tension. As we do mission, how do we do it? We want to share the ultimate truth and spiritual healing found only in Jesus Christ (evangelism), yet we see the physical needs that exist here on earth (social justice). The writers struggle with the same thing, and Stetzer drives home the continuing tension at the end of his essay.

Quick Thoughts on the Essays

As I read the Winter’s essay, I was frustrated with the wide brush strokes of history, but agreed with the need for the social aid along with the sharing of the gospel, keeping with the primacy of the Word, but struggled with how to keep the main thing the main thing, avoiding the errors of the past.

Moreau had some good additional areas to think about, though he was sparse on details. For example, I was not sure what partnerships he was thinking of – between non-religious and missions groups?

Little’s essay resonated strongly with me – our purpose is the glory of God.

Barnett I fought with as he challenged Little but agreed with as he called out Winter’s simplification of history, and then soared as he struck a chord in the need for the church to be center stage with missions.

Terry challenged me biblically and theologically, looking at Ephesians 2:8-10 and showing the need for social and spiritual missions. I particularly enjoyed his look at future trends, which is more of what I expected from Winter’s original essay.

Hesselgrave’s additional essay (found here on Ed Stetzer’s blog) added some strong Scriptural insights on Paul’s missionary role, and added additional insight about Winter’s other teachings.

Future of Missions

So that leaves me thinking – what is the future of missions? How do we do missions in the coming years?

Internet Watching the situation in Egypt, Iran, Bahrain, and other countries, many are driven by social networking.  How do we use these tools as radio has been used in the past?

It certainly allows us to keep up with missionaries and the world. I know for my family it has served this purpose, allowing my children to know and understand the world that exists beyond our community, communicating with missionary friends regularly.

Local Church Partnerships My church, Woodside Bible, has been focused on this for the past several years. Rather than sending small amounts of money to a large number of missionaries, we focus on specific missionaries, and further focusing on specific groups and projects.

For example, my family has worked closely with our partnership with Mano Daniel. I have taught with his seminary, and my wife has worked with medical missions and the orphanage for AIDS-affected children our church helped found with his wife.

Practical Social Justice This may go along with partnerships with local groups. It may include financial help, food, founding orphanages, micro-loans, other ways we can’t even envision yet. A focus on sharing our lives and resources with people we are reaching out to.

Short Term Missions I seem to be one of the few advocates of short term missions (only Terry spoke with positive comments about them), but then my church does not send you on vacation. I spoke at length with Mano Daniel about this when I was there last year. My specific question was “What do you need in terms of missionaries from the States?”

His response was that he does not need more long-term/career missionaries. The issue is that it takes somebody 5-8 years on average to be effective in the culture. He wants more who come for short-term and specific projects. In the teams we have sent to add on to the orphanage, we have been able to complete more work during a 7 day period than locals can accomplish. He said that the teaching teams that we send make a more significant impact in the 5 days of teaching, preparing local pastors to be more effective biblically, than we can know.

And the added bonus of short term missions, having traveled there with my family, is that my kids all know Mano and his family, the challenges that they face, and know better how to pray for this mission field than they could by just sitting through a presentation during a missions weekend.

Mano also made a comment that surprised me. He said that many large international organizations and personalities will travel and come in and do large tent meetings for a week or two, and then leave. While drawing large numbers of people, they often do more damage when they do not partner with local churches, as they get people excited, and then leave. There is no follow-up, no discipleship, no assistance. This is an example of evangelism with zero social justice that does more harm than good.

Tent Makers Many of the areas that Christians want to focus on are closed. Imagine what could happen if people understood their role as ministers of the gospel in the area that God has placed them, and used their ability to travel and work in other countries, partnering with local churches and believers to spread the gospel. We could even be more effective in our local communities by waking believers up that our faith is not a Sunday only experience!

Recognition of missions in daily living Face it – most of us are in a global community on a daily basis – in our offices, schools, and neighborhoods. This means that we need to be focused on sharing the love of Christ daily.

Raising up local leaders This goes along with partnering with local ministries and the type of teaching I have been able to do in India. This will make local pastors more effective biblically, and provide them with regular encouragement.

What can we do?

We are church leaders. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Going back to Van Engen’s essay, we need to define missions (historically, biblically, culturally)
  • What is the gospel and how do we share it?
  • What does contextualization mean in our setting?
  • Struggle with the balance of evangelism and social justice

Jesus prayed for us in John 17, and is continuing to pray for us – that we would be in the world not of it, that we would be protected by His name, that we would have His joy, that we would be sanctified by His Word – truth, that we would have unity.

We sang in church this weekend – “We must go…keep us from just singing” (Tim Hughes – God of Justice). May we go beyond the blogosphere into practical reality!

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With every breath I…

Sunday morning I was enjoying singing along with Chris Tomlin‘s Shout to the Lord, and as I sang “Let every breath, all that I am, Never cease to worship You,” the car in front of me switched lanes and cut me off.

As I muttered “REALLY?!” under my breath, it hit me.

That breath didn’t worship God.

That breath didn’t glorify God.

That breath proved me to be a liar.

James talks about this in his letter. Paul tells it to the Ephesians.

My own singing showed the real me. But that’s not the me I want to be.

Where does your singing call you out?

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Pass It On

I’m done. I’m tired. Nobody cares. Nobody listens. I’m not getting through.

Admit it – you’ve thought one of those. Either with your kids, friends, or co-workers. Could be teaching a life lesson, could be sharing Christ. It’s pointless.

I was hanging out with friends celebrating birthdays last night, and we spent some time honoring the birthday men by sharing how they have impacted our lives.

Without violating the trust of the evening, I wanted to share part of it (and I have the participant’s approval).

One friend shared how another helped him with business decisions, and the example of being a godly man in the midst of the business world.

The same man who was honored shared with me later that his ability to share his life and business decision-making was a result of time that I had spent with him. He was honored to be able to pass on what I had given him.

Sometimes it is the little things that lift you up.

Find somebody you know and tell them the impact that they have had on your life. Watch the difference!

Pass it on.

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MissionShift Response 2

This is the second in a series on essays from MissionShift. You can read Ed Stetzer’s initial blog along with David Hesselgrave’s essay here. Feel free to interact with Ed Stetzer’s blog, my blog here, or any of the other bloggers.

My wife tells a story from her teenage years. Her neighbor, Joe, who had never gone to church, finally came. She was so excited that he had finally said yes. As they walked in, one of the ushers told Joe that next time he came, he had better be dressed appropriately. Jeans and a heavy metal t-shirt were not welcome in the church. She was crushed, wondering if he would ever come back.

I thought about this story as I read Hiebert’s essay. The essay itself resonated with me in multiple contexts. Having been involved in youth ministry (which is a culture in and of itself), traditional churches, seeker churches, teaching overseas, and in the IT profession.

As the other essayists in the book did a good job of summarizing the essay, and Ed Stetzer proficiently highlighted many of the points, this will focus on my thoughts and experiences in the area of contextualization (translating the gospel to different cultures).

Hiebert commented early:

In a rapidly globalizing world it is important that all of us give thought to human contexts and how these shape others and ourselves. We need to learn to live in a multicontext world, to build bridges of understanding and relationship between different contexts, and to judge between them. This is true for social, cultural, linguistic, religious, and historical contexts. How do we how should we relate to people from other cultures? (p. 83)

While holding to a high view of Scripture – including Geisler’s infallibility and inerrancy comments – how do I present the truth of the Gospel within the various roles and cultures in which God has placed me? Stetzer’s essay summarized this perfectly when he said “Why block people from receiving the gospel by insisting that they accept our cultural eccentricities?” (p. 157, emphasis author’s)

Several of the authors alluded to how to understand a culture, but Willis called it out – we need to not just study the culture, but ask questions of those involved in the culture (point 4 – Understand the receptor culture). It sounds so simple, but is so often overlooked.

So how has this played out for me (good and bad)?

Several years ago my pastor challenged me to read Glocalization: How Followers of Jesus Engage a Flat World by Bob Roberts Jr. As I read, I thought about the people God has placed me with.

I work in IT. I work with a number of people of Indian heritage. I enjoy spending time with these co-workers and their families. My best friend is an Indian believer. Ergo, the culture to focus on – India.

Shortly after reading that, I was asked to teach for a week at a Christian seminary in Chennai, India, along with my best friend. We used that and launched a month long trip, traveling, visiting, and preaching at Indian churches in Dubai, Bangalore, and Kerala along the way.

In preparation, I asked my staff about India, how they grew up, their thoughts on Christianity, and what their Hindu experiences were. I asked about how they fit in here in the United States, and how their religious practices changed.

While in India, we adapted out teaching at the seminary to fit the culture. We were teaching smaller village pastors. Illustrations that made sense to the western mind did not translate into their language or mindset. Thankfully, our translator, the head of the seminary, would help with those, and we would change them to more culturally appropriate illustrations.

Celebrating Christmas in India during that trip was a major cultural transition. The churches we were preaching at did not celebrate Christmas. The reason for this is due to the large number of Hindu holidays, they did not want to add to them any others. Other cultural differences – they practiced the women headcoverings, men sat on one side and women on the other, and no jewelry of any kind for the women. While I did not agree with all of the reasons, I attempted to understand where they were coming from culturally, and adapted my preaching to fit their needs. Arguing a difference like this would have hindered the gospel and the teaching of Scripture.

But even here, I question the contextualization. They are separating from the culture and distinguishing themselves – the lack of jewelry in a Hindu culture stands out strongly. But what happens when a new convert with her jewelry and other items comes in? She doesn’t know, but wants to follow Christ. Does the jewelry stop her?

We also took with us J3:16 soccer balls. My son shared the basics of the gospel using the colors on the balls throughout our travels. This involved using the culture of sports to share the gospel, focusing on the basics – creation, fall, the cross and the blood, and the hope of heaven.

We bridged the cultures of the United States and India to share our lives, our hope, and our Saviour with another people group. It involved us learning, asking, stepping out in obedience and faith knowing that we serve a God who can fill in our inadequacies. And we experienced the joy of worshiping Jesus Christ in ways that did not fit my western mindset, but gave a glimpse of what we will experience before the throne of God.

So we come to Christmas Eve, 2010, at our home church, and my wife saw a face across the auditorium of the church we now attend. It was Joe. She hadn’t seen him in years. She went over to say hello and catch up on his life. Best of all, she was happy that he was comfortable coming with his Jack Daniels hat on his head. Nobody stopped him this time. He came, just as he was, and we met him there, just as Christ would do.

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How Missional Are You

As I have walked through the streets of New York, I have enjoyed the sounds of Lecrae (introduced to me by my great son). As I have been reflecting on missions due to MissionShift reading, the song Send Me has stuck with me. I thought I would share the lyrics with you.

[Chorus:]
Send Me, I’ll Go
Send Me, I’ll Go
Send Me, I’ll Go
Let Me Go, Let Me Go
Send Me, I’ll Go
Send Me, I’ll Go
Send Me, I’ll Go
Let Me Go, Let Me Go [x2]

[Verse 1:]
I Seen it wit my own two
Theres no way I can show you
A perfectly poverty stricken people with no view
And I bet you can’t believe this
They never heard of Jesus
Heard of Young Buck, Lil’ Wayne, and Young Jeezy
No One signing up to go on missions this summer
Rather sit at home and watch Xzibit pimpin a hummer
While at night he rollin Shot now
Nobody sreamin Stop now
No bridge illustrates for criminals who on Lockdown
People deep in Africa, lookin for an answer bra
In China men are dyin men until they know who died for sin
So, look what grace did
Not for us to stay in
Inside our comfort zones at home in Momma’s basement
Get out on the grind ya’ll, aint no better time dog
I know you read the Great Commission let me just remind ya’ll
Make Disciples of the Nation teach them to obey the Lord
Hate to never lead someone to Christ before I see the Lord

[CHORUS]

[Verse 2:]
Ay, after 1000 years in the west and the churches
Gettin bigger daily without understandin worship
Some regenerate but alot aint saved
You walk outside and be surprised that the block aint changed.
And the numbers they be gettin them
Somethin still aint hittin them
American’s aint Christian’s they just practicin the rituals
Thats why we should be missions ay oh what you think I’m spittin fo
United States is dyin and the east is lookin pitiful
Some places if they catch you they’ll arrest you and they’ll serve you
But they still need the word too the gospel should be heard too
We claim we aint ashamed but we still aint hit the block up
We in our Christian bubble while our brothers gettin locked up
Lord I wanna Stop up
Take a bag and Walk up
In a country where sharin my faith may get me Shot up
Anyway I go Lord whether my city, Lord or For a broad
I just wanna show them Jesus Christ the risen Holy God.

[CHORUS]

[Verse 3:]
I know they dyin in the streets
Over in the Middle East
Some kids seekin peace
Others holdin up a peace
If the violence doesnt seace
Then at least, the decease
Might know Jesus as they savior as they’re body hit the street
And I know this is a graphic view
I pray that its attackin you
Tractin you, to act and do what you see in the back of blue
Matthew 24:14 We should read it twice
Before we think that life is just a Battle see we live for Christ
Look dog, life is more than Church, Work, and Football
What if you were dead in sin and Christians overlooked ya’ll
This is why we leave the couches and the comfort of our houses
To show the world a God that Mayan never read about

Yeah…The Great Commission says make Disciples of all nations
Have we even made em in our own nation?
Come on Christians
Missions exist because worship doesnt
People don’t worship the God that made them
We Ambassadors..Let’s Go!

[CHORUS]

Which of the lyrics convict you?

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MissionShift Response 1

Over the next few weeks, I am going to be using my blog to interact with a group of bloggers, including Ed Stetzer and David Hesselgrave, on topics from the book MissionShift. Feel free to interact with my thoughts here or at Ed Stetzer’s blog.

In the first set of essays, Charles Van Engen presents the history of the term mission, looking at the definition of the word based on writings and actions of Christians through history.

Missions is a scary word, and evidenced by the start of Van Enger’s essay, Christians shun the word. Without a solid definition, many think that it means being a full-time Christian missionary, going overseas, learning a new language, and living in a new culture. It is fear based on a poor definition that they have grown up with.

And if I were handed the definition from Van Enger out of context, I would be as well.

I decided to see what people around me thought, so while talking with people this week, I have asked how they would define missions and missional. For most people, missional was a completely foreign concept. Missions generally involved leaving home, getting out of comfort zones, sharing the gospel, and being obedient.

Ed Stetzer made two comments in his response to Van Engen’s essay that I think are critical to our understanding and to helping us teach the people in the pews what they are called and send to do. In talking about the missing link between traditionalists and emergents, he said “Perhaps, we need to think more in terms of mission described rather than mission defined.” (74)

Many young people today want to do something – socially both locally and globally. They are about action. Ed Stetzer made the comment that “the Christians of New Testament times emphasized praxis (practice). They were about doing.” (75)

Yet Hesselgrave rightly speaks of Carl F. H. Henry’s view that our definition of mission must be grounded in and formed by theology.

So why does Van Enger’s definition scare me? It is grounded in theology, formed by 40 years of studying. But it is wordy. And I find two issues: 1) without the context of the essay, I could take it to mean only global full-time missionaries are involved. And 2) the average person in the pew would be lost trying to figure out what barriers exist.

Wan’s definition is shorter, picks up the individual responsibility, but without some teaching and understanding, would not be understandable by those in the pew, and adds new terminology (what is the difference between micro- and macro- level of missions?).

I started thinking about how to make it simpler, easier to understand, and still focused. There is still much to be corrected and refined in my definition, but I would propose it as a starting point.

Missions is the called out ones (Ephesians 4:1) sent out by God (John 20:21) to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20) in neighborhoods, work places, and the world (Acts 1:8).

Van Enger gave some characteristics of a missional church. I would add intentional to the list. And this does not mean just the church itself as a body, but each of the parts of the body understanding and intentionally being involved in missions.

Do our people understand that they are the called out ones (Ephesians 4:1)? Just after that, in Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul talks about why the pastors and teachers are put in the church, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12, ESV). Helping them to know how to share and encouraging them to spend their time in their neighborhoods and with people at work, knowing that the relationships they are building there may be used by God to bring them to Christ. Preparing their people to be a part of the church and the Great Mission everywhere they go, from Sunday to Sunday, so that there is no part of our lives that God does not impact and which we do not use to teach (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

We need to help our people come face to face with the living God as in Isaiah 6. Helping them have an attitude of humility that puts them on their face before that Almighty God, but with confidence as in Hebrews 4:16, knowing that they have been cleansed not by a coal from the great altar, but by the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ.

And as God did with Isaiah, He is calling them to go (Luke 10:2). May our people respond as did Isaiah, “Here am I, send me.”

As you ground them theologically, how do you make them mission-focused?

People need it described, they need to see it in action. We need to send them. As we teach, we need to do. Start locally – helping out an elderly neighbor with some chores, volunteering at a rescue shelter, helping out the neighborhood school, being involved in a kids program at the local park, helping out at a local hospital, visiting a juvenile detention center on a regular basis.

Show how relationships are built. Throw a Matthew party (see Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels). Spend time with co-workers outside of work. Let them see your life.

I have gone beyond the definition into practical (as I try to put feet to the definition I have written). As I study the next essays about mission’s present and mission’s future, I pray that God will open my eyes more into how I can change my definition of missions, and more importantly, my life to be obedient to the mission to which He has called me.

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Anticipate

I’m watching the BCS game between the Ducks and the Tigers right now – so highly anticipated.

We just finished with Christmas – waiting and excited to open the presents, spend time with family, and enjoy time off.

That first kiss.

A new car.

Yet right after it happens, there is that letdown.

I was reading The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan (Brandon Sanderson), and a passage caught my eye:

He felt hollow. It was like…like the time when his father had promised him something special as a gift for Winternight. Perrin had waited months, eager, doing the chores to earn the unknown gift. When he’d finally received the small wooden horse, he’d been excited for a moment. But the next day, he’d been shockingly melancholy. Not because of the gift, but because there had no longer been anything to strive for. The excitement was gone, and only then had he realized how much more precious he’d found that anticipation than the gift itself.

People around you are feeling the effects of the let downs from the holidays, sport changes, material wins.

As Christians, we have a gift that after receiving never grows old – the gift of salvation.

Matthew 6:19-20 tells us where our treasure should be.

What are you anticipating?

How can you use the anticipation and the letdown to share with people around you?

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Happy New Year 2011

This is the text of a message I gave for New Years last night…Thanks to Jonathan Pearson and John Acuff for ideas that made me think and got it started!

I heard the story of a couple who adopted a young girl from South Africa who was born HIV positive. Typically, if there is going to be an adoption of this type, it happens when the child is still a baby. But this little girl had been passed over and spent the first 5 years of her life waiting to be adopted.

A year after the adoption, the father said something interesting about the little girl. He said “We kept hoping that she would be disobedient and break the rules.”

It seems like a strange thing for any father to hope for, but the father who adopted the orphan had a reason.

“When we first adopted her, she tried her hardest to be perfect. This little six year old girl was terrified that if she broke the rules she would be kicked out of our family and sent back to the orphanage. For her, breaking the rules would be a sign that she was comfortable and was no longer living in fear.”

Take a moment and think back on your year.

  • When you rang in 2010, did you imagine the successes that you would have?
  • Did you imagine the joy and happiness that you discovered?
  • Did you see the heartaches and pains that were headed your way?
  • Did you fail at anything this year?
  • What regrets do you have?
  • Did you think you would be the person you are right now?
  • Which of those successes, failures, joys, heartaches and regrets would you wish you had not gone through?

Yes, you got that right. I lumped them all together. You would not be the same without the happiness and the sadness, the success and the failure that comes into your life. Each are used by God to shape who you are.

I liked this morning’s Nancy comic, but not sure I agree with all of it.

Nancy - December 31, 2010

It is sometimes the pain and challenges that make us who we are, and lead to that better place. Definitely needs to be a lot less focus on the selfishness that we allow to take over.

Yet those regrets…the roads not taken…the choices made that were easy instead of hard…the fear of failure…the fear of loss…the fear of rejection…

The Born Loser - December 31, 2010

Why do we fear? Why do we lack trust? Why do we not believe?

Ephesians 1:3-23

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

15For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

We are adopted – chosen – we have the promises of God, yet we forget them. We fear that God will reject us, leave us on the shelf, send us back – just like the little girl. So we don’t try.

That adoption does not mean a life of ease – we know Paul’s struggles. Yet God used them. God’s power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that God blesses us with – in ways that are not measurable.

So as we start this new year – what are you going to do that you are scared to do?

  • Do you want to write a book?
  • Do you want to conquer the self-confidence problem?
  • Do you want adopt a child?
  • Do you want to make a move at work?
  • Do you want to lead a small group?
  • Do you want to step out in faith and go on a short-term missions trip?
  • Do you want to get more involved in a ministry locally, or start one that God has put on your heart?

Think beyond the usual lose weight and generic enjoy life type goals. Be specific. Listen to the big goal God is laying on your heart.

Let’s look at and take God at His Word

in Isaiah 43:16-19

16Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

Put the regrets behind you…

Psalm 103

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.

Step up! Step out! Trust the only one who can save us!

Take my life and let it be yours – forever!

And I leave you with Jonathan Pearson’s words again:

New Year. New Opportunities. What will you do?

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