Its hard to believe, another Summer is nearly over. Time just seems to move along so quickly.
Picture this story:
A middle-aged man, driving in his luxury car, pulls around the corner of the street where he lives. He looks at the houses of his neighbors and thinks to himself that at some time he should probably get to know them. Actually, he thinks to himself that in some ways it’s surprising that after 20 years in this neighborhood, he would have by now.
Down the driveway he goes admiring his beautiful landscaping and thinks to himself that he has hired a quality service to handle this tedious work. As he gets out of his car and make the long walk to his really large house, which he never seems to tire of gawking at, he finds himself huffing and puffing a bit more than usual. He also notices his chest puffing out as he congratulates himself pridefully, for all the efforts he has put in: the long hours worked and the many, many business trips he has taken.
As he walks in the house, the one thing that seems the most noticeable is the silence. His wife and two children are nowhere to be seen. “Quietness”, he thinks, “is in some ways nice, but in other ways, it’s so depressing”.
So, what is the point to this story? Its this perspective about success.
After reading through this story would you say this man is successful? Some would, actually many would. Why would we say that? It’s because he drives a luxurious house, owns a large house, and uses a landscaping service.
Outwardly, this man has some very nice things. Let me be the first to say that there is nothing wrong with owning and enjoying nice things. God has given us those things to enjoy.
My point is to question this man’s perspective on their importance and what he was willing to sacrifice to get them. It’s that perspective of success that I so desperately want to keep wrestling with for myself and I would encourage you to battle along with me.
Why? Too often, we can see someone on tv that has all the wealthy merit badges of life: the nice cars, the trophy wife, the big house, etc. and something can stir in my heart: jealousy and envy. I know I have those feelings. Too quickly, I find myself trying to justify why I’m still okay with my pauper existence compared to this wealthy person I’ve just been watching and hearing about.
The issue of jealousy and envy is my own problem no one else’s. I’m needing to deal with that on a regular basis. But the focus of this post is not really about my challenges with envy, or pride, or a critique on enjoying and striving for nice things.
It’s about striving for success in one area. Whether it’s an over-emphasis on being successful at work, or at your church, or with your family, or with your personal health, my plea with you this morning is to be careful about over-emphasizing one area of your life so much that without realizing it, you inadvertently are neglecting other areas of your life.
Life is difficult. It’s really hard. You don’t need to be reminded of that, but you may need to be reminded that there are seven areas of responsibility in your life. How are you doing in each of them? When is the last time you took the time to evaluate how you’re doing?
I would like to encourage you this weekend to take just a few minutes and review these seven areas of responsibility in your life and ask two questions: “How am I doing in each specific area?” and “In what ways can I do just a little bit better?”
Oh, one last thing—you might be wondering why do this personal inventory? The simple reason is that your life impacts others in every one of these seven areas. Do you know that?
Like a person who is a sleepwalker, taking actual steps, but not even recognizing where they are going, some times, I can be living my life (and maybe you do too) where I’m doing life in certain, dazed kind of way, not even recognizing those areas of responsibility that I am tuned out of, totally neglecting….and that will cause regrets, painful ones. I want to help you avoid those.
As a way to further help you strive for excellence in all areas of your life so that you live a life without regrets, I’d like to encourage you to consider the content of this post, but also to consider downloading the Foundations Life Management app in I-Tunes, (Android calls it Foundations Life Coach) that has the red, yellow, green dashboard like above. For the price of a cup of coffee (and more significant and lasting positive consequences) from it, I believe you will be pleased that you took this minimal risk:
You can visit either the App Store (for IPhones) https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I
Are you desperate for some guidance to help you find hope in your present difficult circumstances?
Are you open to receiving encouragement and support from others?
If so, I would like to invite you to join us this Fall for a life-changing 13 week ministry called HOPE GROUP.
We’ll meet Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m., starting September 13th, at Harvest Bible Chapel on Randall Road in Elgin.
Let me encourage you to take a step of faith to finding hope. THINGS CAN CHANGE!
For more information, about Harvest Bible Chapel’s Hope Group ministry at their Elgin campus, please check out the link!
http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/event/summerhopegroupselgin/ (as an fyi, our Fall registration link is not up quite yet, but will be shortly—bookmark this link).
Harvest Bible Chapel- Love without condition …Forgive without limit >>>>>>>This is what we do!
Check out this picture—do you see a STOP sign?
Well, let me come back to that in just a minute. This post is meant for “born again” Christians. You know who you are.
It is meant for those people who one day recognized that they were distant from God and that God, in His graciousness and mercy made a way for us to be reconciled with Him through Jesus Christ as He gave His life as a substitute for us. Approximately 2000 years ago, Jesus took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved because of our selfishness, and rebelliousness towards God and in the Great Exchange offered us forgiveness and peace with God, as our relationship with Him was restored. I hope you never get tired of hearing this gospel message.
Backing up just a minute as a way of explanation —before a person is saved, a person finds them self alienated from God. They are led by their own selfish desires. In addition to their bondage to their fleshly instincts, an unsaved person comes under the slavery to the evil influences of the Devil and his demonic cohorts, as well as slavery to this world system that seeks independence from Almighty God. Habits of sinful behaviors and selfish motives and attitudes become ingrained. Without doubt, the word “darkness” characterizes so well the life, and future potential of an unsaved person.
But, one day, as a believer in Jesus Christ can testify to, God brings in light. Through no doing of our own, a saved person recognizes that they are alienated from God due to their sinful, selfish, and rebellious ways and they repent. They change their ways and in humility they seek out a relationship with God.
With the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God now living in the person, an awareness of the power and wisdom of the Living Word (the Bible), and the support and training of the church community, a new believer grows in their understanding of the faith.
One of the key principles of our faith that every believer needs to understand is that the mandatory bondage to sinful habits of your former life are gone. The Bible says, “we are new creations in Christ”.
The Bible says in Romans 6:6 (nasb) that “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away (or another version says, “rendered powerless) with so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
In other words, as the New Testament speaks of so often, “it is for freedom that Christ has set you free”.
HANG IN THERE WITH ME —THIS IS GOOD STUFF!
Let’s go back now to the picture of the STOP sign. For probably 30 years, I have been driving down this street and I’ve come to a STOP sign. Its been right outside a big hospital. But the hospital has been taken down with the exception of just a few doctors’ offices and the city recently decided to remove the STOP sign.
What I found interesting is that over the past week or so, I have stopped numerous times at that intersection, but the truth is there is no STOP sign there. In other words, although I am free to just keep on driving, a habit has been formed in my mind and every time I go that intersection, these habits of the mind tell my will how to behave.
Can you follow the spiritual application that this STOP sign illustration is to our spiritual walks?
When I get tempted to take a second look at a pretty woman (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.
When I get tempted to get angry at a person who I feel didn’t respect me for some reason, (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.
When I get tempted to covet the nice things that a friend might have that I can’t afford, (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.
Just writing these words is exciting for me and I hope they are for you, as well. If you are a Christian, the new you is not the old you.
God’s best for you is that you not only believe that, but that you act like it.
Why stop along the road of life when you are free to just keep on driving?
“What are we going to do today?”
I’ve been asked that question by my kids on weekends, and on vacations (and you probably have as well). It’s a great question for a number of reasons.
For one, they are looking to me to give them direction to what we’re going to do?
Another reason is that it shows they want to be with me. They are wondering what we are going to do together.
Another reason is that there something adventurous in the question. Its like there is something unexpected, something exciting awaits for us to discover.
“What are we going to do today?”
In kind of an interesting twist to that question, I actually found myself being asked by the Holy Spirit that very question the other day when I woke up.
I’m aware that the Holy Spirit miraculously lives within me as a follower of Jesus Christ.
I’m aware that He wants to counsel me, comfort me, advise me, convict me, re-assure me, inspire me, and so much more. He is there all the time doing life with me (how awesome, right!)
I was kind of startled by that question I received from Him because it challenged me. Was I going to be living my life that day looking to Him to be a kind of genie fulfilling every selfish desire I have (I know those requests will not get answered as I want (James 4:1-3)?
So, what did I want to do today? Well, I think the question was a good one to lead me to the understanding that I did not want to do anything that the Holy Spirit was not directing me. I wanted to seek to be a follower of Him, rather than me taking the lead and seeking to fulfill my desires (Romans 8:5-8, Galatians 5:16-25).
I felt very confident and contented knowing that those who come to Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder for those who seek Him–Hebrews 11:6.
So, “what are we going to do today?” was I turned back on God.
I want Him to give me direction.
I want to do life with Him.
I want to live my life as an adventure (believing that He is able to do far more abundantly than all I could ask for or imagine for His glory)
What are you going to do today?
The idea was to get men to come out 3-4 times during the year, Sunday night at 9 p.m. While at these hour and a half meetings, there would be two brief messages and then two discussion times with men in table groups.During these “connecting times”, men were encouraged to be transparent with one another, to let down their guard and be vulnerable. As we did, it was an opportunity to find support, accountability, healing, and encouragement.
IF, the men attended three of the four nights, they were then able to go a men’s Summer event called Palooza. It was designed to be an “over the top” weekend gathering in Michigan. The weekend would be packed with four messages and times of worship, and many, many activity guys would find challenging: events like softball, mud wrestling, free throw shooting, football tosses, and so much more.
I attended last year’s event. No doubt, it was a good time with many positive take-aways from it.
Then came round two during the past nine months, I believe there were four or five late Sunday night events where attendance at four events was required to qualify to attend this past weekend’s second annual Palooza.
Again, there was the same format of quality worship times and intense, competitive events.
And again, for me, there were many highlights that stood out to me from over the weekend.
But what set this apart, was that it wasn’t until the last 15 minutes of this weekend that Pastor James MacDonald said something that sent fireworks off in my brain (we actually had fireworks on Saturday night too!). He laid out a vision for what Act Like Men was all about.
He mentioned that the bar was set so high (in fact, next year, we are going to have seven late Sunday evening gatherings to attend) because he wanted the church to be calling out guys to break away from our addiction to our independence and acting like we are in control of our self. Too often, we have that “I want to do my own thing”.
We ARE responsible for our actions, but guys especially have a habit of acting from their own selfish and independent mindsets, and prone to isolation, so that we need to go radical and be challenged to a higher calling. Guys, we need to be involved in community.
I saw it!
I finally realized what I had been missing. It was the importance, rather the need of guys (WITH ME BEING RIGHT THERE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST) to do life together and encouraging, supporting, praying for, and holding other guys accountable. It was a matter of being a part of a community where we can not only receive the support and care from other guys, but also give it as well.
I had been experiencing that throughout the weekend, but was oblivious to what I was actually experiencing. I was missing the intentionality of it all.
But again, now I understood it.
I am so excited to be a part of a sea of voices, a band of Christian brothers intent on glorifying God by the way we live during this short time we are on this planet.
I just wanted to be transparent and let you all know what God was doing in my life and encourage each person out there, especially guys to get involved with a group like this, if you are not already.
For some of you, this post today might come really close to the heart.