< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: March 2007

Saturday, March 31, 2007

From A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

Rick wrote, “What ultimately matters most will not be what others say about your life, but what God says about it. Living to create an earthly legacy is a shortsighted goal. A wiser use of time is to build an eternal legacy.”

We were put on earth to prepare for eternity. God will ask us 1. What did you do for/with my Son, Jesus Christ? And 2. What did you do with what I gave you?

Did you use your gifts and talents for the purposes God made you for?

The answer to the first question (accept Jesus and love and trust Him) determines where you spend eternity. The answer to the 2nd question determines what you will do in eternity.



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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Image of God is within us

There’s a story about a sculptor who had a huge block of marble and turned it into a statue of Abe Lincoln. A little boy asked him how he got Abe Lincoln out of that big square block. The man replied, “I just chipped away at everything that wasn’t Abe Lincoln.”

We have the image of God in us and God uses trials and disciplines to chip away everything that isn’t Him until one day we are like Him.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thoughts from Gloria Gaither at The Heart of Worship weekend

Gloria said she used to think that after searching for God’s will long enough she would one day go around a corner and find a wrapped box with a tag on it that said, “God’s will for Gloria – open.”

Her mom, who was a preacher’s wife, said, “His will isn’t something big, in the future (necessarily), it’s where He’s placed you and what He has you doing.”

Whatever we are doing today, we should be doing to the very best of our ability and for His glory. There are no prestigious jobs in the kingdom!

Gloria said in looking back over her life she thinks she has found God’s will in the “interruptions”. We can plan and plan and plan, but it’s what God throws at us and what we do with it that counts.

Don’t be so busy that we miss God’s interruptions.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Lesson from Abraham’s life

God has blessing, joy, love and fulfillment in store for those who fully respond to Him, which far exceed our expectations when we first set forth deliberately to commit ourselves to receive His promises by faith and to follow where He leads in complete obedience at any cost.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Waiting on God

From my Application Bible about Abram going from Ur to Canaan, but stopping in Haran:

“God may give us transition periods and times of waiting to help us depend on Him and trust His timing. If we patiently do His will during the transition times, we will be better prepared to serve Him as we should when He calls us.” (Sometimes God’s calling comes in stages.)

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bible verses about Sacrifices

Psalm 27:6I will sacrifice with shouts of joy.” – praise God in our trials.

Psalm 51:17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” – acknowledge we are sinners, repent and be grateful for God’s mercy.

Romans 12:1Be living sacrifices.” – give God all of us!

Ephesians 5:2 – “Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” - live like Christ.

Phil. 4:18 – “I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” - use our money to help God’s workers.

Hebrews 13:15-17 – “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” - Praise God and respect people placed in authority.

1 Peter 2:5 – “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” - Be part of the church.

Sun shining through the rain makes the rainbow. Spiritually, when a Christian consciously sees the smile and love of God in the midst of present trouble, then the true glory and beauty of that Christian’s life is revealed to the world. Trust His promises. Don’t waste a suffering!

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Bible thoughts to reflect on

- Live your life like you are answering what Jesus asked Peter three times: “Do you love me?” and “Feed my sheep.”

- As children of God we don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow!

- Satan got Eve to forget all that God had done for her and to focus on the one thing she couldn’t have. The next time we feel sorry for ourselves, think about all the blessings God has given us and thank Him.

- “He learned obedience from what he suffered…” Hebrews 5:8

- From the book of Job: Regardless of how much Job suffered, he clung to God and God rewarded him. Job was tested. With a life filled with prestige, possessions and people, he was suddenly assaulted on every side – devastated, stripped down to his foundation. But, his life was built on God and he endured.

- I read this in Christianity Today, “Early church leaders wrote about the distinction between virtue and innocence. Innocence is when we've faced no temptation. Virtue is when we've been tempted but stayed strong. A similar distinction can be found in faith. Innocent faith can trust God because it hasn't seen darkness and trial; virtuous faith has known hardship and still chooses to trust God.”

- You can answer a lot of ‘what should I do’ questions by remembering that Jesus said the 2 greatest commandments are: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” For example: ask yourself, “Does this honor and glorify God?” or, remembering that some of your closest neighbors are your family, “Will this make my family closer?” (Adding more activities to your already busy schedule may sacrifice family time, etc.)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

God's Plans for you

From the book The Busy Woman’s Guide to a Balanced Life

Before you can discover God’s plans for you, you have to relinquish your own. As Romans 12:1 says, “be living sacrifices.” In faith lay down your dreams and take up His opportunities.

Think about things that come easily to you; the things that people tell you you are good at. Then think about what you can do with those gifts right here and right now. (Because as Jill Briscoe once said, “Lots of people never do anything because they can’t figure out how to do everything!) So we need to look at what’s in front of us and start there.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Easter Clothing and Gifts

Easter is the most important and joyous of all celebrations. Through the death of Jesus Christ we have forgiveness of sins. In His resurrection on Easter Sunday we have a new life forever. That is why you will find so many Easter egg designs at Pink Ink Art, as eggs are the symbol of Jesus' resurrection and our rising with him to new life. And that is what Easter is all about. You will love this shop!
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Monday, March 19, 2007

Interview with Rick Warren

This is an interview with Rick Warren, "Purpose Driven Life" author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California, which has been passed around the internet. In the interview by Paul Bradshaw, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body--but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity.

This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is "my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)? When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Call upon the Lord

From the story of Enosh in Genesis 4:26
Today God seeks individuals who, because they realize their weakness and confess their need of God’s strength, will call upon God through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who reveals Him to us. He promises to fill the consciously hungry (Matthew 5:6) and to supply the need of those who know they are spiritually poor. (Rev.3:17-21)
However, we receive in proportion as we choose to take the time to “call upon Him” in humble and earnest prayer. We “do not have” because we “do not ask God.” (James 4:2)

Enoch
From the story of Enoch found in the book of Genesis: What profound fulfillment of personality Enoch must have experienced as he set his heart with a holy ambition to walk with God daily for the rest of his life! May we all choose to have such a holy ambition for ourselves!

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thoughts from the book of Genesis

Adam and Eve
From Genesis in the Garden of Eden: When God came looking for Adam and Eve, they were hiding because after sinning they were ashamed to be in His presence. When we wrong someone we tend to hide from him or her. Sin is wronging God. We need to confess our sins immediately, asking forgiveness so we don’t hide from Him. And we need to be specific – not just say, “Forgive my sins.”

Creation of Woman
The love between a man and woman; stronger than death, stronger than the tie to one’s parents, this drive to one anther that does not cease until it again becomes flesh in the child. It comes from the fact that God took woman from man, that they were originally one flesh. They come back together as one flesh in marriage.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Blessings of God

Anne Grahm Lotz wrote in her wonderful book, God’s Story:

These are the blessings of God. I am:
Accepted by God,
Beloved by God,
Chosen by God,
Delivered by God,
Enlightened by God,
Forgiven by God.

I have:
God’s grace,
hope,
an inheritance in heaven,
justification,
knowledge of God,
God’s love,
God’s mercy,
God’s nearness,
oneness with God,
peace,
quickening of the spirit.

I am:
Redeemed,
sealed with the Holy Spirit,
treasured by God,
united with other believers,
validated as an authentic child of God.

I have:
His wisdom,
and one day I will be exalted with Him in Heavenly places!

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Uzziah

2 Chronicles 26:7God helped him” and verse 15: “He was greatly helped.”

God helped Uzziah because he continually sought God and as long as he sought God, God prospered him. (2 Chronicles 26:5) He humbly looked to God for guidance and protection.

Who are you looking to?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

From Jim Cymbala’s book “The Life God Blesses”

I’ve read most of Jim Cymbala’s books and I really recommend them. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the pastor at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. He probably has inspired more of my Sunday School lessons then any other living Christian writer!

Here are some thoughts from this particular book:

He wrote that God’s heart of mercy provides for us not only pardon from sin, but also a daily provision of spiritual food to strengthen us. That God speaks to our hearts, “Leave it to me. Don’t worry. Just trust, pray and wait”, “Wait on Me. Don’t try to solve it yourself. Just wait”.

We must wait while believing and praying, while being obedient, with our Bibles open and while doing His work. His “time of favor” will come!

Jesus said,“Come to me all who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor Me.”

James 4:2 “We do not have because we do not ask God.”

Turn your heart toward heaven and lay everything that is in it before the Lord.



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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pray for the Fruits of the Spirit

More then earthly things, pray for the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit daily and at the same time ask God how you don’t reflect that characteristic. Also read the Beatitudes. God’s purpose is to make us more like Christ and to grow His church, not all the other things we may have on our wish list!

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Some thoughts to reflect on

If life is running smoothly at present be prepared for trials and tests to come. Faith is not true faith until it has been tested and proved in times of trial. Pray before trouble comes so we are ready to go to God for help.

God sends upon us sufferings and sorrows to wean us from the world and draw us nearer to Him and heaven.


Can I forgive? Can I put a spouse’s interests above my own? Can I grin and bear certain things? Fight my way through depressing events without losing hope or becoming bitter? Face old age with bravery and even cheerfulness?

With God’s help, yes.

We are to have a relationship with God and Jesus…"Tragically many people will miss heaven by 18 inches” (the distance between head and heart knowledge.)

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

More on Prayer from Growing Your Soul

- Prayer also requires wholehearted honesty – which should probably go without saying. (Isaiah 59:1-2) Unworthy thoughts and sinful deeds hinder communication with God. He wants humility and authenticity. God knows everything, including our attitudes. We cannot bluff Him. Sometimes we almost convince ourselves of something with our self-delusion, our rationalization and half-truths. Honest prayer changes that.

- Prayer judges integrity. This may surprise you, but some people who go to church aren’t very nice OR very honest the other 6 days of the week. And some ministers and priests sin big time! This fits the last one in that when you pray realizing God knows everything you begin to see your actions through His eyes.

- Prayer helps us determine what’s a minor irritation and what is truly significant.

- Prayer frees us from self-centeredness. The author suggests when we pray for something we should also ask ourselves: will our world, church and family be better? Who will get the credit? If you pray for your spiritual life who will gain from your piety? Will you mirror the purposes of God more clearly? If you pray for a job promotion and more money – how will that outcome affect your faith? If you have more money or a higher position – how’s that going to help people?

- Prayer motivates action. The author here says when we offer intercessory prayer; God may very well ask us what we’re going to do to help out? If we’re praying for a sick friend – are we also going to stop by and offer to: cook, clean, take the kids somewhere, pick up something at the store, send a card?….

- Prayer often gets us to answer our own petitions. It could be that God expects specific usefulness from us for every answered prayer. Linking to God through prayer gives us the strength to take action.

- Prayer also tears down our feelings of uselessness. An older person who feels they are no longer needed can always pray. A person in a job that they feel is unimportant and that they are not contributing anything to can always pray. No one can do anything more important than pray for someone else. And prayer blesses twice when it’s intercessory. The person praying and the one prayed for. And I would even suggest – more than 2 – it can be like the rock tossed into the lake – who knows how far the ripples will go? He also says that it’s wrong to do a Christian service without prayer because it’s a temptation to the ego of the doer and therefore a potential problem for the one who receives the benefits.

- Prayer admits absolute dependence. We’ve all heard there are no atheists in foxholes. President Lincoln said that during his most demanding days of Presidency, “I have been driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have no other place to go: my own wisdom and that around me seemed insufficient for the day.” We have days when our own wisdom just isn’t enough: parenting, sickness, divorce, relationships, forgiveness and death. It’s the most natural thing in the world to turn to God in those circumstances.

- Prayer cultivates friendship with God. This made me think of how people bond more when they work together or go through a trial together: prayer acknowledges that God’s right there going through something with us. So our relationship gets stronger. Psychiatrists will often tell you people already possess answers to their own problems deep down in their psyches. And they can be discovered by verbalizing the problem in conversations. Prayer allows you to do that.

Have you ever started to ask a question in a class or during a presentation and before you even finish the question you find yourself saying, “Oh, wait – now I see”? I guess God can be our own personal psychiatrist. So just tell Him everything that’s on your heart – nothing will shock or surprise Him – EVER! Tell Him your troubles, your joys, your dislikes, your temptation, your longings, when someone’s hurt or disappointed you – candid conversation with God takes spirituality into all levels of life. And it’s not that He doesn’t know any of this stuff you’re thinking or going through, but it helps you sort through and have the “Oh, wait, now I see” moment.

Frequent contact and serious conversation deepens our friendship with God and the intimacy that it develops is a thousand times more meaningful then the SOS’s we send out in the middle of a problem.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

How does prayer change those who pray?

Below is more from my Sunday School lesson Growing Your Soul based on the book by Neil B. Wiseman. It's a little long, so I will continue tomorrow.

Someone once wrote, “prayer is a dangerous business – you could wind up being changed” Well, authentic prayer does change the person praying. A lifetime of prayer involves us in a continuous remolding process.

- Prayer unchains us from old habits of feeling, thinking and acting. Genuine prayer gives us surprising insights, corrects false assumptions, questions past distortions in our beliefs about things and helps us better see God’s big picture.

- Prayer can also be a voyage of inner discovery. Sometimes its like looking thru a microscope and seeing a detail more closely – other times its like looking thru binoculars and again – seeing the big picture – seeing a little bit more how things look to God. The author says prayer is absolutely necessary for those who wish to make sense of the world within ourselves, without and beyond.

- Prayer shapes us into Christ likeness – becoming like Christ is the highest human pursuit. Always has been – still is. Prayer opens us to God so he can restore us into what He intended when He first created us. Jesus prayed in every situation. If we do that too the outcome is not what we receive, but what we become. Prayer shatters our arrogance, it reminds us we are dependent on God for: food, oxygen, the sun.

But, when the capable, but overly dependent people pray God may tell them, “Get up and go answer your own prayer, that ones something you can do.”

When an impulsive person prays they may get a “not yet” answer. And those who pray in self-pity sometimes experience a deafening silence, indicating how preposterous their complaints sound to God. Prayer is constantly changing and guiding the prayee.

By making us more like Christ it teaches us to sacrifice rather than grab, to love rather than lust, to give rather than take, to pursue truth rather than promise lies, and to humble oneself rather than inflate the ego. All of which is a significant answer to prayer itself.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Proverbs 31 Woman

My husband and I went to hear Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Woman, speak at the Hickory Home and Garden Show today.

I loved what Jamie Treadaway, Executive Director of Hickory Mart Shows, said as he was introducing her. “Last year was the first year we brought in this type of talk, but we feel faith is as much a part of the home as having a beautiful house and a nice yard, and it’s important to have our priorities straight.”

Lysa spoke at two different times and both were dynamic and inspirational. She’s very polished while at the same time she speaks from the heart and is very wise, but down home southern and friendly.

Most of all she is a woman who says yes to God.

Her website is http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/index.php

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jesus Paid our Bail

Pink Ink Art

I found a great design especially for this Lenten season. Here’s what the shop owner writes about it:

Declare your faith and let the world know that Jesus Paid YOURS, MINE and EVERYONE'S bail so that we can be free from Satan's jail. The cross and nails remind us of His sacrifice.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Prayer grows your soul

Philippians tells us to shape our worries into prayer (Phil. 4:6-7)

Prayer can help us wait when our impulses tempt us to act rashly. It gives us strength when something is hard. It helps us “keep on keeping on” in our daily routine of walking with Christ. It helps us love other people better. And it keeps up close to God.

God meant prayer to simplify life – can you see that? It’s like a kid who has a problem, going to their dad for either the answer or a solution or just a hug. The kid feels better just going to his dad. Humans have made it more complicated. We are the ones who have divided it into 5 classes, “Adoration, Confession, Petition, Thanksgiving and Intercession” We tend to stick thees and thous in when we would never say that in a normal conversation – and how often when we are asked to pray in a group do we say – “lets have a short prayer” – I’ve never heard anyone say lets have a long prayer now, but why do we feel like we have to promise people it will only take minute?

There are lots of questions people have about prayer – do we need all the answers before we pray? No – I don’t really understand how I can talk on the phone to someone half way around the world, but I do it! I am however not as bad as the joke John sent me about the man giving his blonde wife a cell phone: he called her when she was at the library and she answered saying, “How did you know I was at the library?”

As humans we tend to want to understand, we want concrete answers to our questions. I think we also want to get the most out of something we are putting effort into too – so if we’re going to take the time to pray for something we need – we want to do it in a way that will get an A+ from God – and the answer we want, right?

But, prayer really is just talking to God. Telling Him what we think, what we’re worried about, what our hopes are for this situation or for the future. Asking for His help – which could be anything from taking the problem away to giving you the strength to live with it!

The more time we spend in prayer and reading the Bible – the more we will begin to see where God is coming from in things. Sometimes just talking to God about a problem organizes it in your mind, calms you down enough to get perspective and helps you see what He might think of the whole thing, which then gives you an idea how to handle it.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

More from Growing Your Spirituality

I decided I do want to share a little more from the book Growing Your Soul by Neil B. Wiseman. This is all from a Sunday School lesson I taught using his book as the base.

How to organize life around Christ

God has already placed a compass inside every human magnetically drawn to Jesus. The centering that results offers a unified way of looking at the world. It clarifies our self-understanding and provides us a sense of direction for living. Basically centering our lives on Christ shapes our thoughts, monitors our conversation, questions our attitudes and evaluates our achievements. It helps us sort out the passing from the eternal.

It helps us develop healthy, happy homes, restore relationships, give up destructive habit patterns in both thought and conduct. It takes away our fear of the future. While it won’t keep bad things from happening to us – it will help us deal with those things when they do.

To begin shifting our thoughts from self to Christ we need to pay attention more to our motives and intentions and less to our good appearance and impression. The author says if we do this one thing – the stress will decline in our lives. He says that’s because nothing else in our lives is stable – so if we center our lives on our spouse, our kids, our job, and our money – we will eventually be disappointed.

Here are some of his suggestions for centering our lives:

1. Think small – It’s not all going to be mountain top experiences. Bigger is not always better and louder is not always more true. There is a lot of good to be found in ordinary days and quiet times. We should cherish each day.

2. Make a faith statement with your living. Thomas R. Kelly said that a centered life is a heaven directed life and our way of life advertises what we believe. Our choices either give credibility to our values or undermines them. Our lives catch people’s attention the most when we are spiritually strong dealing with problems.

3. Listen to people and events. God can teach us in a thousand ways, but we need to cultivate a willing receptivity to understand His will and purpose. We need to dig in to Scripture. To ask questions of other Christians who may be further along the journey then we are. We need to ask – What is God saying to me here? We can learn something from every person we cross paths with if we let ourselves. Nature can remind us of God the Creator; lilies can remind us of when Jesus talked about how beautiful they are. We can receive a message from God when bad things happen too. We need to keep our ears, eyes and hearts open to everything around us.

4. Practice God’s presence. This tunes us in to Him. To practice His presence, we may think of Him reading the letter we’re writing to someone, listening to a phone call we make or a conversation we’re having, reading the book we’re reading over our shoulder, etc.

5. Allow God to test our truthfulness. The author says we should speak plainly. We don’t need to try to sound pious or impressive. We don’t need to exaggerate; we don’t need to use words with double meanings. We don’t need to pretend we know something we don’t – we should just say what we mean.

6. Be satisfied with enough. It seems like everyone has a problem with money. They either don’t have enough – they have enough, but want more or they worry about keeping what they’ve got! We can trust God to take care of our needs.

7. Resist distractions – our world is full of airplanes flying over, barking dogs, ringing phones, crying babies, beeping computers and blaring TVs – how can we hear God above all that racket? We need to be still sometimes. One of the ways we can do this is spend some time thinking about the attributes of God, or the different names for Jesus: Savior, Emmanuel, Redeemer, etc. The author shares a list of verses that he says will lower tension and distraction just by reading them:

(Acts 20:35) (John 8:32) (Phil.1:21) (Romans 8:35) (Phil. 4:8-9)

8. Try to act like you think Jesus would in a situation.
Share dreams and spiritual discoveries with others – When we share our spiritual journey with someone else it keeps us from back sliding – it makes us accountable. Spirituality needs relations to really grow and flourish so our faith journey will be strengthened.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Practical Steps to Increase Your Spirituality

I just finished teaching a class from the book Growing Your Soul – Practical Steps to Increase Your Spirituality By Neil B. Wiseman

This is a very good book, whether you want to just read it and apply it to your own life, or teach a Sunday School class from it.

It starts out saying that everyone is created with a hunger for holiness. A hole that only God can fill. It says this hunger intensifies as we grow because of:

- Moral erosion in society
- Technology, which not only isolates us from real relationships, but creates a “too busy, anxious” environment
- Good life seductions – a rush to succeed and keep up with everyone else
- Ceaseless motion – too many activities, not enough quiet time with God
- Shallow religion – the church is often failing people by not showing what Christianity can do.

Then the author talks about what we can do to make our lives Christ centered. He says that Christ-saturated living transforms common life experiences into moments of grace, ordinary events into adventures of possibility and power and life’s struggles become sanctuaries and sacraments of strength.

The book goes on to cover how to organize our lives around Christ, how music is a way to increase our spirituality, how God answers prayer and how to “do something wonderful every day.”

I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, so that is just a tiny hint of what’s in there. If you were in my Sunday School class you would have heard about 3 hours from this book.

I do recommend it to anyone who wants to grow their soul and increase their spirituality.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Steve Green

My husband and I went to an amazing concert tonight at the First Baptist Church here in Hickory. Steve Green. He was just great: wonderful singing, wonderful sharing.

Steve has been doing this for 20 years and has had 4 Grammy nominations, 13 number 1 songs and 4 Dove Awards. He says that even after 20 years he still feels a joyful responsibility and a strong urgency to share the gospel and that he approaches every event as if it were his last chance to communicate God’s truth.

Here’s his website:
http://www.stevegreenministries.org/
And he even has a blog!
http://www.stevegreenministries.org/journal/

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Random thoughts to share

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner
I read somewhere that the above is the perfect statement showing what God does. You have God on one side, yourself on another and you are connected by His mercy.

Perhaps the greatest mark of a loved person is a loving and compassionate spirit.

From 1st Peter: Inward beauty has to do with purity, reverence, and a gentle and quiet spirit. 5 characteristics of Christians should be: harmony, sympathy, love, compassion, and humility. Seek peace - pursue it – God blesses this type of conduct.

Think! - be clear minded and self-controlled
Love! - love one another deeply
Serve! - offer hospitality
Speak! – if anyone speaks, do it as one who speaks the Word of God

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