Write Your Own Story

January 15, 2013

Everyone likes a story.  Whenever I get together with old friends, it seems like the same stories always come up.  We laugh every time we tell them.  That’s the way a lot of stories are.

Other stories aren’t told because we aren’t proud of them, yet they are part of our history.  We didn’t intend for these stories to go the way they did.  It just seemed to turn out that way.  Maybe they were caused by mistakes and poor decisions and habits on our part.  We “own” them.

The truth is, we can impact the stories that we can tell in the future by the decisions that we make today.

In essence, we write much of our own stories.

Andy Stanley said, “Direction, not intention, determines our destination.”

If we keep doing the same things that we’ve always done, most likely, we’ll get the same results that we’ve been getting.

The way we live our lives is perfectly designed to get the results that we’ve been getting.   

If you don’t like something about where you’re headed, CHANGE IT TODAY!

Think about your habits today….  “Play it forward” and try to imagine what your life will be like if you keep making the same decisions that you’ve been making. 

  • Keep nagging your husband = Unhappy marriage continues & maybe divorce.
  • Overeating and gaining too much weight = Possible heart attack down the road
  • Overspending constantly = Possible bankruptcy and loss of house
  • Read Bible Everyday = Ready for whatever comes
  • Treat your wife with respect without fail = Happier home
  • Treat church like it’s not important = Teaching your kids to do the same

I don’t’ know what your “habits” are but I know that we write much of our own stories.  The best way to do that is to allow the “Author of Life” to help and guide us.

If we live our lives and make decisions according to His Word, without compromising, our story will be fuller and more meaningful.  He won’t force us.  It’s up to us.

What story are you writing today?

 

This post was inspired by Craig Groeschel and LifeChurch.tv’s “My Story” series.  If you’re near Mt. Juliet, come hang with us at MJLifeChurch.  If not, check out LifeChurch.tv online.

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Emmanuel, In Chloe’s Words

December 10, 2012

If you read my last blog post, you know that my son’s girlfriend Chloe and her sister, Greta, were in bad auto accident yesterday after church.

We were at the hospital until late last night and this morning I used my “Pastor Card” to get in to see her.  As I talked with Chloe this morning in ICU, I told her that all through the ordeal I was reminded of Craig Groeschel’s message yesterday.  It was about God’s “omnipresence”, or as a child would say, “God is with ME.”  Chloe said that she was also reminded of the message and took comfort from it through the whole ordeal.  (She is still in the ordeal as she had surgery last night and has at least two more this week.)

I thought about “Emmanuel” as I was praying in the car with Marla and Matthew at the accident scene.  Greta had talked to Matthew.  We didn’t know if Chloe was ok or not.  All we could see was emergency vehicles and lights.  The car was behind them.

We prayed desperately and thanked God that we knew that even though we couldn’t see what was going on behind all of the emergency lights and vehicles, we knew that God was with Chloe and Greta.  I also knew that God was with Carl and Jaynie, the girls’ parents.  We asked for God’s comfort on them.  I felt his presence with me.

Chloe’s jaw has multiple fractures but what she said to me this morning, mainly moving her lips, rocked me to the core.   This is what Chloe said:

“When I was still in the car, I was scared.  I had been singing ‘Jesus Loves Me” because that’s all that I knew to do.  Greta was talking to me to keep me calm.

I then heard the paramedics outside of the car talking.  They said to each other that they didn’t know if I was going to make it.  Then I saw Him.  I SAW JESUS.  He was shaking His head ‘YES’ and said ‘You ARE going to make it.’  I knew He was with me.”

I was speechless.  Wow….  “God is WITH US.”  He was there with the girls.  He was with Carl and Jaynie.

He was TALKING to Chloe, giving her hope as she sat in a totally demolished car with so many injuries that the EMT’s thought she wasn’t going to make it.

I asked Chloe for permission to share her story and she said it was ok.

I will never hear the words “Emmanuel-God with us”, in the same way again.

Don’t Even Think About It

January 13, 2012

Ever try to get backstage at a concert without a backstage pass?  It’s not easy.  There is usually a big guy named “Brutus” standing there.  Nobody gets past Brutus unless Brutus says it’s ok.  Brutus is the gatekeeper for backstage.  He opens the gate and he shuts it. One look at his biceps and you know that you don’t mess with Brutus.  He’s the gatekeeper.

You are the gatekeeper of your mind.  There isn’t much that can go there without you saying it’s ok.

What we allow to go into our minds can effect just about everything about us:

  • Our relationship with our spouse
  • Our health
  • Our relationship with God
  • Our attitude
  • How we feel
  • How long we live

As a Christ-Follower, we are told to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things.  (Colossians 3:2) 

Craig Groeschel recently taught in the “Better” series from LifeChurch.tv that there are 3 Keys to having a Better Day.  I believe they are key to setting your mind on things above.

1.    Constant Communication With God

The Bible tells us that we are to “pray without ceasing.”    As we go about our day, concentrate on seeing things though the eyes of God and the lens of Scripture.

Even if we have a quiet time in the morning, which is VERY important, sometimes we walk away from that time and forget what you learned from God during that time.

As you see people and experience situations, pray on the go as you drive, walk, and go about your day.  Stay in constant communication with Him about EVERYTHING that happens during the day.

2.    Instant Obedience to God  (Galatians 5:25)

As my daughter, Rebecca said in yesterday’s blog, it’s crazy to think about what we miss out on because we get distracted during the day.  If we stay in contact with Him, we will begin to see opportunities to serve Him.

Sometimes we may get an urge that we believe is from God.  Take a chance!  If you feel an urging to give someone $10, do it.  If you feel like you’re supposed to go and talk to a stranger, start a conversation.  If you think God wants you to go take a hamburger away from “Brutus,” you might want to pray a bit more about that one.  lol

Could the idea in your mind that you think may be God speaking to you ever be simply a case of bad pizza from the night before?  Yes, but you could also miss out on the leading of God if you don’t act.  If you think he may be leading you, take the risk!  You’ll get better at it as you walk with Him over time.

3.    Daily Desperation for God

If we begin to realize how desperately we need God on a daily basis,  we will draw closer to Him.

It’s easy to go about our daily life with the attitude of, “I’ve got this one God.  I’ll let you know if I need you.”  The Bible talks about how we should passionately desire God the way a thirsty deer longs for a drink.  Passionately pursue God every day and realize your need for a relationship with Him

Finally, when negative thoughts come in your mind, take them captive.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and WE TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT TO MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST.”  2 Corinthians 10:5

Stopping negative thoughts at the door is the work of the gatekeeper too.  Work on putting the above 3 habits into your mind but reject anything negative that will bring you down.    Maybe you need to limit certain tv shows, contact with certain people, or maybe even your thoughts when you daydream.

When something negative tries to enter, don’t let it.  Tell the negative thought trying to get into the gate of your mind, “Don’t even think about it!”  

You are the one who decides what goes in. 

What’s one thing that distracts you from thinking the way God wants you to think on a daily basis?

I was asked to review the book, “Radical,” by David Platt on my blog.  I had heard that it was a very challenging and thought provoking book and that proved true.  The very subtitle of the book, “Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream,” suggests that the American Dream has taken my faith.  As I read the book, I realized that in some ways, I had come to desire the American Dream more than I had desired to really follow Jesus.

Platt says, “We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with”

For many Americans, Christianity is great as long as we can conform it into our own image of what it should be and make it fit into our lives.  The call of Christ, however, is a call to reshape our lives into what He calls us to be and live.  Some may call living the way the Bible tells us to live “radical”.  By today’s standards, living for Christ may be quite radical from what we see in most who claim to know Christ here in America.

Without admitting it, when we approach Jesus we often come with an attitude like, “Tell me what you have to say and then I’ll decide whether or not I like it.”  If we approach Jesus in that way, we will never hear him.  We need to approach Jesus saying “yes Lord” before we even know what it is that He wants from us.  Does that mean selling all we have and giving the money to the poor or going to Africa to serve in an orphanage?  It means saying “yes” no matter what he is telling us to do, even before He tells.

Sometimes we forget that He is Lord as we read Him our list of requests and go merrily on our way.  Truth is, He is the Master. We’re not.  Yes, he wants us to come to Him when we hurt, when we are in need, and when we need healing, but He wants us to come to him as Lord with thankful hearts,  He wants us to be willing to listen to Him and obey.  He wants us in the Bible so that He can speak to us and lead us.  We aren’t leading Him.  We’re supposed to let Him lead us.  It’s easy to forget.

Platt is pretty hard on the American Dream.  He reminds us that Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”  When we neglect the poor it shows where our hearts really are.  We are put here for a purpose and it is only for a small amount of time in light of eternity.  Let’s not live like this is the final destination.  It’s just a short “blip” on the map.  Let’s rearrange our lives or whatever He leads us to do to live a “radical” life for Him and not for ourselves.

Question:  What are your thoughts?

I used to think that church was supposed to be a safe place where I would go on Sundays, learn about God, and then go home and be a good boy.

I’ve walked with God a few years now and my views on church have changed a bit.  I’m not sure that I was out of line with the American view of God, but in view of history and the worldwide church, I’ve still got some things to learn.

Many people are willing to call themselves “Christian” and say that they are willing to do ANYTHING for God.  I’ve found that sometimes we’re willing to do “anything” as long as it doesn’t hurt or cost us a lot.

Let’s not focus on all of the other people in America.  As the great theologian, Michael Jackson said, let’s “start with the man in the mirror.”

Craig Groeschel says in his “Weird” series, normal ways of doing things, seeing life, handling money, and trying to get ahead just aren’t working anymore.   If the normal way of doing things isn’t working, it only makes sense to change something.  After all, if we do the same things again this year that we did last year, we get the same results, right?

My view of church has changed.  I now see the church as a safe place (at least in America) to hear a dangerous message.  Why is it dangerous?  Because if we listen to the message that God has for us in the Bible, it is dangerous to our mediocre, normal life.  The message and life of Jesus Christ, if really followed, would look radically different than what we see exhibited in many churches and by many “believers” in America.

If your family and friends don’t think you’re a bit “weird” or different, the reason is probably because you’re just like everyone else.  If you are overcommitted with work and activities and don’t really have any extra time to help with the mission of your church, that’s normal!  If you find yourself always having something come up that prevents you from helping out in that area that you know that God has put on YOUR heart, that’s ok.  Most people aren’t that involved in serving either. .  Just doing a little ministry will help you feel better until next time.  That’s normal.  If you’re tired of your marriage, don’t worry!  Just throw in the towel and start over with someone else.  At least half of the people do that today.  It’s normal.  Just start over

How about finances?  Normal people would never sell their car or even give it away if they felt like God was telling them to do that.  They would figure it couldn’t be God.  It must be that pizza from last night.  You never should have eaten it that late!  God wouldn’t ask you to do something that crazy…. Or would He?

Man-kneeling-in-prayer

My point is this:  When Jesus called the disciples, they made major changes and adjustments in their lives to follow Him.  When God speaks to a believer in Iran, he risks his life to obey.  Ever notice how a new believer in Christ that is on fire for Him is willing to be called “weird” by his family and old friends?  The old friends don’t get it.  They don’t understand some of their decisions.  It’s not normal.  Jesus isn’t normal either.  Even “experienced Christians” wryly smile and say, “He’ll settle down after he is a Christian for a while.”

Maybe we aren’t supposed to “settle down!”  

Why do we HAVE to loose our passion?  Why do we have to become more “civilized” and “socially normal” in following Jesus?

Look at I Corinthians 2:14:

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

 If everyone always understands all that you do and you’re never misunderstood because of your relationship with Jesus, you’re probably “normal.”

If God is not challenging you to make adjustments in your life so that you can follow Him more closely, either you are Jesus (which I know that you’re not) or you aren’t listening.  If we’re never “inconvenienced” and our lives are never interrupted, we may not be following the Master as closely as we think.  Following Jesus isn’t safe.  He was crucified.

What are your thoughts?  Am I out in left field playing basketball?

Normal is out at MJLifeChurch.  We began the series, “Weird,” this past week and we hope that you’ll be going “weird” with us.  What do we mean by “weird?”  Check out this verse:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Weird

One thing in particular that Craig Groeschel said in week one of our new series stands out to me.  “If we want what everyone else has, do what everyone else is doing.  If we want what a few have, do what a few are doing.”  It doesn’t take watching CNN for very long to see that what we’re doing isn’t working as a nation or as individuals.  What most everyone is doing financially, relationally, spiritually, and in just about every other area in their lives isn’t working.

If we want life to work, we have to do something different.  We have to stop thinking and acting like “normal” people.  We have to get “weird!”

Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right… Romans 12:2 NIrV

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out… Romans 12:2 MSG

It doesn’t make sense to walk in faith sometimes.  It’s weird to give your tithe, the FIRST 10% of what you the money that make, to God when we’re in a bad economy.  It’s weird to wait until you are married to have sex.  The world says “if you really love someone it’s ok.”  The world says it’s weird to tell people about God.  They think you’re “judgmental” or “narrow minded” when you really just want them to have a relationship with the King of Kings.

The world probably wouldn’t understand why I would quit my job in Tallahassee, came to Nashville without a job, and started a church.  To some, it didn’t make sense why I spent 10 years in youth ministry, hanging out with a bunch of kids.

We’ve got people at MJLifeChurch.tv that are just plain weird!  Some people:

  • Travel around the country playing music, telling people about Jesus.  Isn’t there more money playing in bars?
  • Go to the Nashville Rescue Mission, feeding the homeless.  Can’t those people just get a job?
  • Volunteer their time EVERY Saturday setting up church when they will just have to tear it down on Sunday and do it again next week.
  • Give the FIRST 10% of EVERY dollar they make to God for His use.
  • Turned down a higher paying job because they had a “feeling” that God didn’t want them to take it.
  • Take their vacation day from work just so they can serve another person that needed them that day.  Aren’t vacation days for going to Florida or at least the lake?

We’re not weird for weird’s sake.  We just see that normal isn’t working and that God has a better way.  If that makes us weird, then so be it.  This world isn’t our home.  We forget that sometimes.

Have you ever been considered weird?  What did you do to deserve that title?

Daniel Fast

January 1, 2011

“To get unreasonable results, you have to do unreasonable things.” -Craig Groeshel

 

It’s a New Year and it’s time for those resolutions that we make every year.  Many times as believers we say we want to grow closer to God in this next year.  If we want to make changes or really know God better, we need to do something radical.  Andy Stanley says, “The system that you’ve been using is perfectly designed to get you the results that you’ve been getting.” What are you going to do that is radical that will jolt your life into the direction that you know that you need to be going?

MJLifeChurch.tv is participating with LifeChurch.tv in the Daniel Fast for 21 days. Fasting is a great way to push aside ourselves and our wants and focus on God. It reminds us that it’s not all about us. Fasting has the potential to draw us closer to God and helps us refocus on Him. If you have been at a spiritual standstill or you simply want to grow in your relationship with Christ, I hope you’ll join us for these 21 days.

In the “Daniel Fast,” the idea is to limit what we eat to the things that Daniel ate when he requested to stay with the diet that he learned when he was home serving God before he was taken captive.  Basically, he only ate veggies, fruit, and nuts. He avoided all meats and drink, other than water.  You can research more on the Daniel Fast at and the allowed foods here:

http://danielfast.wordpress.com/daniel-fast-food-list/

Daniel could have had the best food from the King’s table but he felt like that would get in the way of his relationship with God. God blessed his devotion, dedication, and heart.

The key to fasting for spiritual growth is not simply going without food. If that’s all we do, we’re simply starving ourselves.  We also need to intentionally draw to God during this time through prayer, meditation, and Bible reading. Otherwise all we accomplish is maybe loosing a little weight.  I hope you’re goal is more than shedding a pound or two, though some of us could definitely benefit from that too!

In the above quote, Craig Groeschel said, “To get unreasonable results, you have to do unreasonable things.”  If your relationship with God has grown stale.   If need some answers or you feel like you need to trust God more.  If you just want to grow in your faith, join us beginning on January 3rd, with the Daniel Fast.  Ask God for something BIG that only He can do through you.  Let me know how it goes for you!