Monday, September 28, 2009

Winning in the Game of Life

The final Simple Truth About Life is that in order to win you have to lose. Jesus said in Mark 8:35 that if you try to save your life you will lose it, but if you will lose your life for Jesus and the gospel your life will be saved. We often think about winning at the game of life as having the most power or possessions. However Jesus challenges us to live differently. He says that we win when we give our lives to God.
A question that came to me following my message yesterday was, "how do I know that I have given my life to God?" I think this is an important question. Many people have an experience as a young person of giving their life to God, but then as an adult we live differently and wonder if that gift was really given.
One solution I have is to keep giving your life to God. I do not think giving your life to God is a one time decision. The first time may be a significant change in someone's life, but we do not become perfect Christians after that one moment. Daily (if not more often) we need to consciously decide to give ourselves to God again. I do this through prayer each morning because too many days I want to do my own thing.
The other piece of this question is a theological point of the Wesleyan tradition. John Wesley believed in assurance. Assurance says that we can know that we have given our lives to God and will be with God for eternity. Wesley says that through scripture God will speak with a still small voice to let us know we are His children. God's voice will assure us that our love relationship with God is true. This happens as we read our Bible and study God's Word.
So be assured, that if you have given your life to God a long time ago or today you are a child of God. Continue to give your life to Him and you will be a winner in the game of life.

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Are Worthy

My beautiful and talented wife and co-pastor, Helen, shared our sixth truth of this series of Seven Simple Truths About Life. The truth is that you are worthy. She talked about how we often believe we are not worthy of God's love and acceptance. We often condemn ourselves because we know all of our faults and sins.
The truth is that we are worthy of God's love and grace, but it is not because of our own goodness or achievements. I see two reasons we are worthy. First, God created us worthy. God is the one who created us and God does not make junk. God gave each of us special talents and abilities. We all have something to offer in this world. If we think we are not worth much we are telling God He made a mistake with us.
Second, God made us worthy through the sacrifice of Jesus. It is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that allow us to have a worthy relationship with God. When we think we are unworthy of a relationship with God we are saying that Jesus' sacrifice was not enough. But it was enough for you and for me.
In Bible study on Sunday night we discussed Paul calling the people of the church in Ephesus "saints". Calling them saints did not mean they were extra special Christians or that each of them had performed miracles. Calling them saints was a reminder that they were set apart for a special purpose because of their trust in Christ.
We are saints today as well if we are living for Jesus. We are worthy of that title if we set our lives to live for God. This does not mean we will be perfect, but that we are in a process of growing in Christ-likeness.
Saints, we are worthy of God's love and grace because of all He has done for us. Live with the confidence of knowing God will continue the work He has started in you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Join the Club

Truth #5 is that contentment in life can only be found within. True peace and satisfaction can only come from God who resides in us. However, we so often look outside ourselves to satisfy this longing to be content.
One place we look for contentment is in relationships thinking that if we have the right relationship we will be content. This relationship might be a love relationship or it might be fitting into the right group like a club or team. Another place we look for contentment is in the stuff we possess. If we can just buy enough stuff we will be content.
When I was in high school and college I had this desire that seemed to find contentment in buying Christian music. I joined one of those music clubs where you ordered CD's and they were mailed to your house. I could not buy enough of these CD's. I have probably over 200 Christian music CD's. Most of them are older now since I do not spend my money on CD's too often now, but back then I know I spent too much on them. I have Christian CD's that are rock, punk, techno, instrumental, classic, and everything else. I even have Jesus Loves Me in a rap version.
Something inside of me kept wanting more and more of these CD's. I was not content if I did not have the latest and greatest Christian music. Thankfully they were a pretty good deal through the club. Normally their CD's were like $18, but I only bought one when you got 4 free CD's with the purchase of one. So, with shipping payments of $2 for each CD it was like 5 CD's for $28, which is not bad.
I do not know where you have tried looking to fill that place of contentment in your life; cars, houses, gadgets, relationships, but I do know that there is never enough. Eventually we have to realize that those things will not satisfy our cravings and only by turning to God will we truly be content. It is okay to still collect things or want stuff, but only if that stuff is not an attempt to find contentment.
I think officially I am still a member of the music club, but I have not order CD's from them lately. I lean more on my membership of the Christian club that finds contentment and peace in Jesus Christ. I hope you are a full member of that club as well.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Challenge

Yesterday I called us to think about the truth that we should not be careless with what we cannot replace. Specifically I mentioned God's image and God creation. We cannot replace God's image which is in us. We need to care for our bodies by what we put in them and how active our bodies are. We also cannot replace the earth, God's creation. By recycling, reducing our use of energy and our waste and by reusing anything we can we are helping to care for the earth.
So I want to challenge everyone to be more mindful of how we can be the best caregivers of our planet that we can. Continue to strive to be conscience of how you treat this planet. I am not sure if there is an easy way to measure this improvement among us, but we can strive to do better.
I do think we can measure our care for our bodies. Two measurements come to mind. The first is how many minutes a day we schedule for activity. I am not completely concerned with what activity that is, but just be sure to have some time you are moving about. I am making a commitment to at least 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days a week. If you want to join me in this commitment be sure to let me know and we can encourage one another.
The second measurement is in pounds. I am currently around 195 pounds. I do not think I am dangerously overweight, but I do have some extra pounds. The Body Mass Index (BMI) says the top of my normal weight range is around 170, but I think that is a bit low for me. My goal is to lose between 10-15 pounds by Thanksgiving. I have never tried to lose weight before, so this will be interesting. With my activity I committed to above I will attempt to cut back my calorie intake and see what happens. If anyone wants to join me in this challenge let me know as well. It would be wonderful if many people in our church decide to take off a few pounds to get our image of God in better shape.
I am sure this will not be easy, but if we can make this commitment and be determined to see it through I believe God will have great things in store for us. Join me in this challenge.