Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Make the Most of Your Christmas Break

It is too easy to get out of a spiritual rhythm during breaks like Christmas.  It may seem like it should be the other way around but it is not.  That reality makes Christmas break a great opportunity for you to lose ground spiritually or to really push ahead.  I prefer the pushing ahead….

Here are a few very simple things that may help you dig in spiritual over the next several weeks.

1)       Commit to a Plan in Reading the Word

Decide now what and how you will read the Bible during the Christmas break.  Don’t be random in your reading.  If you do not make a plan you will probably not read. Make a goal that realistic for you.  Maybe that could be something like reading through the 12 Minor Prophets (probably haven’t read those lately anyway), asking the one question, “How do I see Jesus in these books”?  Read through an entire Gospel focusing on how each chapter leads you to worship Jesus. Read and memorize one verse per day. It can be anything.  They key is to do it. To top it all of, ask someone to hold you accountable for your plan.

2)       Commit to Pray for Missionaries

There are several students from Clemson that are serving in places all over the world at some point during the Christmas break.  They will be in China, NY/NJ, and Atlanta, GA.  Their work needs the prayers of the Body of Christ.  They will be away from family, some on Christmas day.  They will experience spiritual attack. They will experience victory. Commit to a few minutes each day of praying for them.  If you know some of these missionaries personally, take the time to shoot them emails/text messages/FB messages etc. letting them know you are praying for them.

3)       Commit to Serve Someone in Need

Don’t let Christmas become about you.  There are several great ways you can serve someone else. 1) Volunteer for a morning at a local food bank, nursing home, or thrift store. 2) Donate canned goods to a local food bank. 3) Send a financial gift to an organization such as Compassion International or Samaritan’s Purse. Both of these organizations have special Christmas options for giving on their websites.  They make it very easy for anyone with any amount of money

Commit to Reconciling Relationships

At the heart of Christmas is reconciliation.  It is God reconciling us to Him through Jesus Christ.  It is possible that you are going into Christmas break with a relationship or two that has been damaged.  Do not let that stay in your heart over these few weeks.  Take the initiative to go to that person and make things right.  Don't go and point out what they have done wrong but own what you have done wrong.  Ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness if needed. The Bible is clear, Jesus is clear, that when our relationships are messed up, our worship will be unacceptable (Matt. 5:23-24, Psalm 24:3-4). 

4)       Commit to Honoring Your Father and Mother

The command to honor your parents is still important.  Maybe you struggle with being home for several weeks because your parents are tough to be around.  Maybe your parents are not Christians.  Maybe they are amazing.  Whatever the case, spend time asking the Lord for practical ways that you can daily honor them.  Thank them for how they love you.  Help them around the house without them asking you. Take them out to eat. Pray for them.

5)       Commit to Pray for Spring Semester

The break will be over soon and you will be back on campus.  God wants to use you to make His Name known this spring.  Pray each day that your heart would be ready for whatever He wants to do with you next semester.  Keep praying for someone you know that is not a follower of Christ.  This next semester may be the semester when God has the biggest opportunities for you.  You need your heart to be ready.

I Hope You all Have a Merry Christmas!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Treating People Right

The more I allow the Hoy Spirit to examine my heart the more I realize that I need a constant re-calibration in the way I view people. It is just too easy to be sinner with people.

Here are a few things the Spirit is teaching me.

1) I am much more arrogant than I realize.

This comes out in my expectations of people.  I have a tendency to expect people to treat me in the way that I think I deserve.  I expect people to live up to my spiritual expectations. When they don't fit into m expectations it is too easy for me to get to thoughts like "why can't they get what I am saying?", "What is their deal?".  Notice how much "me" and "I" is in that! DANG!

Check out Phil. 2:1-11, Rom. 12:3

2) I need to be more thankful for the people that are in my life.

There are some amazing people in my life that have loved me for a long time.  I am always thankful but I do not express that to them enough.  This week I talked with two men who have really loved me well even when things were pretty messed up in my life. There are also so many people whom God is allowing me to walk with and help in their journey.  I do not deserve to have the place in their lives that I have.  They are all a gift of God and they need to hear that from me more!

Check out 1 Thess. 2:19-20, and Phil. 1:3-11

3) I need to verbally praise and encourage people more.

As a leader it is too easy to be more about what people do than who people are.  I can move from one task or thing to next without much stopping and just telling people how much I love them and how well they are doing.  That is pretty bad. People need to hear that they are doing ok, that they are making a difference, that they are loved, that they are appreciated.  They need to hear me, in front of other people, affirm them.

Check out Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:24, Phil 2:19-30 (Paul is bragging on Timothy)

There is a lot more that He is teaching me.  I really just need more of the Holy Spirit.  I need the kingdom to come in my relationships.

Monday, October 22, 2012

From a Phase to a Lifestyle

Last night I was sharing with some of our student leaders about this “phase” I go through a couple of times of year.  I also told them that I wish that I did not have to repeat the phase but just live it all the time. So I want to encourage you to think about this “phase” for you and challenge you to make it a lifestyle of your heart.  That is what I am praying for me.

So what am I talking about?  Thanks for asking.

I am in a place or phase, spiritually where I feel an overwhelming sense that I can do nothing without God.  I know that sounds so basic, but honestly, it is easy for me not to live that way.  It is easy for me to “do stuff” and even do some of it well in the eyes of the world.  The problem is that going through the motions and doing something well does not mean that there will be any spiritual power in it.

Here is a reality: You and I need the Kingdom of God to come in our lives all the time.   I am NOT talking about experiencing the saving grace of Jesus over and over.  I believe He redeems/saves us once for eternity.  But, I also believe that in our broken world we are prone to get off track from living for the glory of Jesus.  We waste time.  We waste money. We have wrong thoughts.  We hold grudges. We act selfishly. We say stupid things. We make bad decisions. We sin.  So, we need the Kingdom (the rule of Jesus over everything and our submission to Him in everything) to come in all of those areas.

Here is another reality:  There is one way for the Kingdom to come in our lives.  We don’t work it up or manipulate it.  We don’t program it or do impressive things to get the Kingdom.  We beg for it.  We cry for it.  We put the brokenness of our lives on the table and from the depths of who we are ask God to take it over.  When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, one of the first things He said was “say this…Your Kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2).  In Matthew 5:3 Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”   The Kingdom comes when our broken, bankrupt, surrendered, needy hearts, understand that there is nothing of any spiritual value possible with out Jesus and in genuine humility, we get down and BEG God for the Kingdom to come.

I really love that sense of neediness before God.  I don’t want it to be a phase I go through for a week or two.  I want to live like that all the time.  So I am inviting you to join me in becoming a life-long beggar for the Kingdom.   Don’t let it be phase.  Make it a lifestyle of your heart.