The Link

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Great stuff in The Link this week. In included several articles from the New Years. I always love to share some interesting reading from around the web for my friends. Some of these will encourage you, entertain you, and educate you a bit. Good weekend reading. Trust you enjoy your day in Christ today (Philippians 1:2).

A Prayer for Your New Year – This is a prayer you can pray this week or all year long.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father,
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
– Philippians 1:2

A Perspective-Giving Question for Your New Year – Jesus asks His disciples a penetrating question related to discipleship and following Him. I take the implications of this question and apply it to every day living.

How to Become a Person After God’s Own Heart – David was the man after God’s own heart; however, he was a very imperfect reflection of the Son of David, Jesus. Yet, God gave him high praise for his heart. Is it possible that although we are imperfect, we can still be people after God’s own heart?

Social Media in the New Year – This is a three-question standard that you can use for all your social media use. It is so easy to post something only to realize it was unwise, unhelpful, or plain sin. This post will give you some ways to evaluate your posts for this year.

Boeing 747 retirement: farewell to the ‘Queen of the skies’ – After years and years, millions of miles, and many happy flyers, the final passenger-carrying Boeing 747 was retired this week. This is an interesting article to fill in all the details. If you like to fly, this will be a fun article for you.

Wonders of Wildlife wins Best New Attraction in USA TODAY online poll – Congratulations to Springfield’s and Johnny Morris’ new attraction Wonders of Wildlife for winning the Best New Attraction for 2017 in the USA Today online poll. All the details are in this article from a local perspective. This is the original article about the poll.

Five years later, Colorado sees toll of pot legalization – Ever wondered about the efficacy of pot legalization? Here is an opinion piece from earlier this fall on the state of Colorado. It is very interesting to read…especially for those states where there is movement in this direction.

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2018 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

How to Become a Person after God’s Own Heart

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What kind of person are you? Is there an area where you want to change?

One of the most interesting Bible passages when considering a person’s life or character is Acts 13. Here Paul is preaching about Jesus – the son of David. However, in his message he mentions King David’s character.

What do we know about King David? Imperfect? Yes. …Sinner? Yes.
…Inconsistent? Yes. …Just like you and me? In many ways, yes.

Yet, Paul’s inspired testimony of David: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (13:23). He further said of David, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep,…” (13:36).

David was a man who fulfilled God’s purpose in His life as a man after God’s own heart. In this way, he was a non-perfect reflection of the Son of David who would follow him as the perfect Son of God. There are several commitments you can observe both in David’s life and in the Son of David’s life that can help you change. So here’s the question, how can you become more like the Son of David as a man or woman after God’s own heart?

Five Commitments to Help You Become a Person after God’s Own Heart

1. To Know, Meditate on, and Obey God’s Word

David recognized the importance of knowing and doing God’s Word. He wrote:

More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward
(Psalm 19:10-11).

Jesus also was committed to living according to God’s Word. When He was tempted by Satan he demonstrated this commitment: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus also said the wise person is the person who hears His words and obeys them (Matthew 7:24).

Paul celebrated Jesus’ humble obedience when he wrote:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

Every day of your new year, live life with a commitment to knowing, meditating on, and doing God’s Word.

2. To Sacrificially Love and Show Compassion

David demonstrates love and compassion in various ways throughout his life. Certainly this is true as he serves Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. David’s desire: “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? … Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” (2 Samuel 9:1, 3). David wanted to show the kindness of God to those who didn’t deserve it.

Jesus, the Son of David, exemplifies in every way the meaning of sacrificial love and compassion. Isaiah described it so well when he wrote:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;…
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed…
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,…
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,… (Isaiah 53:4-7).

3. To Live for the Glory of God

David often sang and reflected on the glory of God. In Psalm 19 he proclaimed, “The heavens declare the glory of God…” and concludes, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:1, 14). He desired to live His life consistent with the glory of God.

Jesus of course demonstrated a commitment to live for the glory of God perfectly. He prayed to His Father, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).

As you live the moments of your life, live committed to doing all things to the glory of God. Paul wrote, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

4. To Pray Regularly

We know David prayed. Practically every psalm he offered is a prayer, a reflection of his heart before God. He communicated his thinking, emotions, desires, sorrows, disappointments, and so much more through prayer. He repented, sought forgiveness, and expressed the joy of forgiveness (Psalm 32, 51). David prayed.

Jesus also prayed throughout His entire earthly ministry. He demonstrated prayer to the disciples (Matthew 6:5-13), got alone to pray often (Luke 5:16), prayed for His disciples (John 17), and prayed in His greatest moment of need (Matthew 26:36-46). Jesus was a man of prayer.

Likewise, as people who have a heart like God and desire to live out His purpose in our lives, we must be committed to prayer.

5. To Serve Your Generation Well

David served his generation well (Acts 13:36). Certainly Jesus served His generation well – and every generation who have ever lived. Jesus provided salvation, the forgiveness of sins, to all generations. “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

We should be eager to commit ourselves to serving our generation well too. Live every day choosing to love God and others before we do ourselves (Matthew 22:37-38). Seek to creatively serve those around you with love and kindness.

Do you want your life to change in the new year?

If so, determine in your heart to be God’s kind of person. Life change does not happen with one resolution or change of behavior. Life change happens in the moment-by-moment. Each situation. Each circumstance. Each decision. Each opportunity. Each instance. In these, your life is changed because the foundational commitments of your life flow from a heart that desires to be a man or woman after God’s own heart who fulfills God’s purpose.

This is an adaptation from a 2016 blog, A New Year’s Challenge.

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2018 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

 

A Perspective-Giving Question for Your New Year

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Blog-A-Perspective-Giving-Question-for-Your-New-Year-01.02.18The dawn of a new year often gives people hope. My friend recently shared that the new year is similar to receiving a new sheet of blank paper. You can write whatever it is you wish on it; you can make whatever you want out of it. New opportunities. New hope.

As you contemplate your new year and your own blank sheet of paper, let me suggest and explain the significance of a simple question for you from the life of Jesus.

Jesus asked the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)

In the life of Jesus, this is an interesting question on many levels. Several familiar stories connect with this question. At this point in Jesus’ ministry, people were taking notice of Jesus. His disciples were out preaching the kingdom, healing the sick, and exciting the people with their message (Luke 9:1-6). Many people were beginning to follow Him. So much so, Herod, the tetrarch, even wanted to know more about who Jesus was (Luke 9:7-9). Big things were happening around Jesus and his twelve disciples. Jesus had just miraculously taken a small boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 men with their families (Luke 9:10-17). As you can imagine, this question, “Who is Jesus” was on the minds and mouths of people all over the region.

In this context, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They explained the confusion of the crowd. They all thought He had to be one of the great prophets of old that had come back to life. The disciples reported the crowd said He must be John the Baptist, others Elijah, or possibly one of the other prophets of old. Basically, people had no idea but were impressed with Him. They appreciated what He could do for them. They marveled at His miracles. But none of them understood who He really was.

Jesus then asks His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter correctly answered on behalf of the rest, “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20). Jesus was the expected Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. Peter understood Jesus as God’s Son, the God-man.

Why is this question significant?

Jesus commended Peter for his correct answer and then gave him the following implication. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

In other words, Jesus challenged them, “If you believe that I am God’s Son, then you must selflessly follow Me.”

But why?

Jesus answers the why question with three statements. Each of these statements provide us perspective on why Jesus taught that His followers must selflessly follow Him each day.

1) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. If you want to live your own life, be your own boss, do your own thing (i.e., save your life), you will ultimately lose it. However, if you choose to follow Jesus selflessly, giving up your control of your life, your life will be saved. Giving your life to Jesus (i.e., losing it) actually saves it.

2) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? This is another significant question and reason to follow Jesus. He compares two different values. If you were to gain the whole world but in the process eternally lose your own soul, have you really gained anything? Is everything and/or anything you want in your world worth your soul?

3) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. If you are not willing to follow Jesus and be counted as a Christ-follower (i.e., ashamed of Jesus and His words), then Jesus will not count you as one of His. In other words, ultimately in eternity you will be rejected and condemned because you did not choose to follow Christ now.

Putting it all together…

Eternally it matters how you answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” Although you may have great appreciation for His teaching, love the miracles He performed, and genuinely respect what He did for others, if you have not humbled yourself to genuinely follow Him as your Savior and Lord, then you will not have eternal life.

But it matters today as well.

If you would say, “I have followed Jesus,” then how are you following Him?
Whose goals are you living for today?
Whose agenda are you following?
What is most important to you?
Who is in control of your life?
To whom are you listening?

Sobering issue to consider. If you are not functionally following Christ, even though you would formally say that you love Jesus, then you must ask yourself, “Am I truly a follower of Christ?” “Will I gain the whole world but in the end lose my own soul?” “Do I live for me and enjoy Jesus as the crowd, or am I a true follower of Christ?”

Are you selflessly following Jesus?
And if you say that you are, how does that impact what you do, for what you live, and how you act?

If you are a true follower, then make this new year the year to demonstrate it.

Jesus asks you, “Who do you say that I am?”

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2018 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

A Prayer for Your New Year

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Blog-A-New-Years-Prayer-01.01.18Dear God, our Heavenly Father,

Thank You for 2018 and the opportunities that this new year brings.

Thank You for the gift of time. Today. The hope of tomorrow. The turn of another calendar year.

We are grateful that yesterday, the year 2017, and the past do not determine who we are, determine what we do today with our opportunities, nor determine how we respond to our circumstances.

We are grateful for Your grace that is new every morning, Your Spirit Who empowers us to do what brings You honor, and the presence of Christ Who is with us as we embark on the journey of another year.

We are grateful for the forgiveness of sins. Thank You for Jesus Christ Who died on the cross to redeem us and pay for our sin. Thank You that although the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ. Thank You that there is no condemnation in Christ; instead, we are free from the guilt of our sins. How incredible to recognize that Jesus even took the shame of our sins too, so that we enjoy the beginning of this new year without shame for those things we have done in the past.

We are grateful that because of salvation in Jesus Christ, we are clothed in righteousness. Thank You that You see us hidden in Christ. We do not come to You even now on our own merit but by the blood of Jesus Christ, as Your children, we approach Your throne. Thank You for welcoming us. Thank You for listening. Thank You for enjoying us as we bring this new year prayer to You.

We are grateful that we have peace with You and peace with others in Christ because of the sacrificial death of Jesus. Thank You for the body of Christ. Thank You that You provide us with brothers and sisters-in-Christ who live with us in community. Thank You that You do not expect us to face the opportunities and pressures of today alone; instead, You have given us others to walk with throughout this journey of life. We especially thank You for our dear friends who love You and help us love You more faithfully.

We are grateful that You are in control of the world around us. Thank You for not leaving us responsible for those things for which we are concerned but are outside of our control. Thank You that You alone are sovereign. We are grateful for Your providential care as we live daily. Thank You that accidents, happenstances, and mistakes all perfectly fit Your plan for us. Thank You that You work all things out for good for those who love You. Thank You that we do not have to worry about today, tomorrow, or the future because Your plan includes all the details of those things before they even happen. Thank You for being so in control that You sent Jesus, just as predicted throughout the Old Testament, in the fullness of time. Thank You that You plan and handle today and this new year with no less care and specificity than You handled and planned the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Your Son.

Because of all these things and so many more, we ask that You would grant us the wisdom to face the opportunities, challenges, and pressures of this new year. We ask that You would make us aware of the power of the Spirit, the presence of Jesus Christ, and the hope we have in Christ. We ask that You would help us take full advantage of our position in and union with Jesus Christ.

As we look at the impossible, thank You for being the God of the possible. We pray that You would provide us courage where we need it. As we face the uncertainties ahead, may we trust in You. In every place where we are called to do the hard thing, thank You for the grace to do it. Where we do not think it is even possible to do what is right, thank You for making it possible. When we do not personally desire to do what is right, thank You for giving us the power to persevere, to act in spite of our emotions, and to obey Your will and not be a slave to our own.

Father, You know the burdens of our heart. You know the sins that entrap us. You know the things about which we are tempted to worry. You know our greatest concerns. We now stop to recognize that in each of these areas, You give us the ability to persevere, to hold on, to do what is right, and to take the next step toward righteousness. Please grant us the awareness of You as we face these moments, contemplate these burdens, and struggle with temptation.

God we ask for the courage even today to repent of the sins that hinder our fellowship with You. We ask for forgiveness of those sins. We pray for wisdom in light of them. Help us to know what is necessary to put off, what we should put on to replace those sins, and the places where we should simply trust You. Please grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Savior Jesus.

We take time now to dedicate this new year in our lives to You. We determine now to humbly walk with You throughout the minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months to follow in this year. We ask that You would graciously bless our resolve to make the most of Jesus in every opportunity that lies ahead in the moments of this new year.

Thank You once again for the hope this new year gives.

It is because of Jesus and in His name we pray, Amen.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As you pray this prayer, two things to keep in mind:

First, Make it personal.
Name your specific pressures, opportunities, temptations, and hardships.
Be specific for the people for whom you are grateful.
Change the plural pronouns to personal pronouns.
Add additional blessings for which you are thankful.

Second, Pray it often for you and others.
You do not have to pray this prayer just for the new year.
Tweak it. Change it. Pray it every day.
Pray it not just for yourself but also for your friends.
Call out their burdens, opportunities, temptations, and hardships.

My prayer is that God would richly bless you this new year.

Have a Blessed New Year!

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2018 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

 

Lessons from the Fallout

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These stories of inappropriate sexual behavior continue to surface: Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Al Franken, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Leon Wieseltier, Garrison Keillor, Roy Price, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, and the list continues.

The #metoo movement tugs at our hearts as we learn of people who have also suffered sexual misconduct. Even now the hashtag #churchtoo reveals heartbreaking stories of abuse in the church.

What lessons can we learn from the fallout? Let me suggest four simple principles to recognize as we seek to respond to these stories and the people sinned against sexually in any manner or place.

Recognize we all sin. None of these men are different than any one of us. Does that excuse their behavior? Absolutely not! Nothing excuses sexual sin against any person or in any marriage. As a long-term pastor and counselor, I have heard so many of these heartbreaking stories, which have left me angry, disappointed, and, at times, discouraged. However, we also must not fail to recognize that these men simply sinned, just as we so often do. It would be very easy to sit in a position of pride and pronounce damnation on each of these people while failing to recognize our own weaknesses and sinful flesh. Two verses help me keep focused on the ugliness and universal nature of sin. Paul writes both. “Therefore, let him who things he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Bottom line…we all contend with the sinful flesh and sometimes fail to honor God in our attitudes, words, and actions. Each of these men share in that same sinful flesh. Therefore, in humility, we recognize our own latent potential to sin as well.

Recognize there are hurting people all around us. Sin always leaves a wake. When someone chooses to sin such as all these and so many more, that sin always impacts the sinned against. There are single women, wives, mothers, and grandmothers who continually bear the burdens physically, emotionally, and spiritually of these acts. Children, parents, and friends also suffer. Similar to a tossed rock making ripples across a pond, men who sexually sin against others create a ripple effect that is real, significant, and often long-term. Therefore we must recognize there are those around us hurting. We must be ready to serve those same people with the energy God provides us. In the Bible, Peter challenges us to be ready to pray sincerely, love creatively, share generously, speak wisely, and act responsibility by God’s grace through Jesus Christ for God’s glory (1 Peter 4:7-11).

Recognize people need to do the next right thing. As we engage both those who have sinned and those who are under the burden of others’ sin, our agenda remains the same. We want to lovingly point them toward the next right thing. Often both the sinned against and the sinner allow the past to have authority in the present. In other words, they primarily respond to the opportunities and pressures of today under the influence of what happened in the past. As one who cares and desires to offer help, we must encourage them that for today, they need to do the next right thing. Being a slave to the past only continues to impact today and their future in highly negative ways. Instead, making a decision today for the next right thing puts them on a new road toward blessings from God and others as they pursue what best honors God in their circumstances. James reminds us, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).  Paul challenges us, “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In every instance, the next right thing will both honor God and bless both the sinner and the sinned against as they put themselves in a position for God to honor their responses.

Recognize that God has placed us here for each other. For the body of Christ, God provides over 30 one-anothers commands in the Bible. From loving one another with brotherly affection (Romans 12:10), to showing honor (Romans 12:10), to caring for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25), to bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), to forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32), to encouraging and building up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), the Bible instructs us to actively engage each other in profitable ways. God’s plan of care includes the way we actively respond to each other in the body of Christ. Our responsibility is toward each other. We cannot afford to passively observe waiting for someone else to give the word of encouragement, offer care, or seek to provide comfort. These are our responsibilities. Therefore, we must respond to the sinner and the sinned against in specific, intentional, and God-honoring ways. We do this by both understanding our responsibilities as part of the body of Christ and living consistent with those.

Would it be easy to just criticize? Sure.

Would it be possible to respond as if we do not have any problems? Absolutely.

Would it be tempting to compare ourselves with these to minimize our own responsibilities and justify not seeking to help? Yes.

However, we must think hard and carefully through these simple lessons and allow them to motivate us to love and good works toward both the sinners and the sinned against.

Join the Conversation:

How can you be more aware, sensitive, and caring toward those around you who have either sinned or been sinned against?