June 19, 2013

Progress Report- Give IT Your All

This past week my message revolved around the 180 degree turn King Josiah (2 Kings 22 & 23) made after he allowed the Truth found in the scriptures to transform his life.  Not only did this transform him as an individual, but Josiah also allowed it to transform his kingdom.  In fact, one of the greatest statements made about a person was written about Josiah….

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.                        2 Kings 23:25 

There are 6 things that Josiah did with the Scriptures (the Bible of his time), which helped him to become such a remarkable leader of Israel.  For many of us, if we could do these same things with the teaching of the Bible, I believe, no I’m counting on God using the Truth found in the Bible to not only transform our lives but also our communities.

1) He FOUND It.   (2 Kings 22:10)    
Can you find your Bible?

2) He READ It.   (2 Kings 22:10)   
Well, actually someone read it to him.  The great thing about reading from the Bible yourself is that you can go at your own pace.  Yeah, it’s big, and for many of us it is the biggest book we’ve ever picked up to read.  But remember what they say about how to eat an elephant, ONE BITE AT A TIME.   Small portions are best!

3) He BELIEVED It.   (2 Kings 22:11)   
Josiah believed what he read… but that doesn’t mean that he understood all of what he read.  Some of us digest food at different rates that others.  The same is true of how quickly we understand passages from the Bible.

4) He PRAYED ON It.   (2 Kings 22:13)   
Seeking God for understanding and application of the Truth found in the Bible to our lives should be high on our priorities.

5) He COMMITED TO It.   (2 Kings 23:1-3)   
Living by the Truth found in the Bible takes commitment.  Especially when we don’t know where that Truth will lead us.  For many Christians, this is the area that they struggle with the most.

6) He LIVED It.   (2 Kings 23:4-24)   
Josiah was born and raised during a very confusing, dark, and evil time for those following God.  Many teachings by evil men had taken root in their culture to the point that human sacrifices were made outside of their city walls.  Male prostitutes live in the Temple of God.  Multiple false gods were sacrificed to and worshiped in the same Temple that was original built by King Solomon for the worship of the one TRUE God.  Once Josiah read from the Bible and realized that many things he and the people of Israel once believed to be true were in fact misrepresentations of the truth, he took immediate actions to change things.  For him and for those he was responsible for to lead. 

I know, I know, some of you reading this are saying.. “I know, I know…. I get it, I get it!  I’ve heard this all before.  For your information, I’m a believer of Jesus Christ.  I’ve skimmed through parts of the Bible, and I basically get the jest of it.  There’s no need for me to keep reading it over and over.  I GET IT!”

Well, take a look at this blog from Seth Godin about people who said “I GET IT”  

June 12, 2013

Blowing A Still: A Christian Progress Report

I recently read a great blog by Seth Godin called, “Sure, but that's not a plan”, that caused me to reflect on the “shortcuts to success” that people are spending so much time and energy searching for in hopes of achieving a dream, goal, or a solution to some problem or difficulty they are having (like financial struggles, relational dilemmas, weight or health issues, etc). 
For some, their “financial plan” to success is to continue to play the lottery, picking numbers from a “divine selection process” (meaning they pick numbers and pray that God will intercede and allow the balls to match their lotto picks).
Others pray that God will “bless this food to the nourishment of my body, and help me to reach my target weight goal”, as they bow their heads over their afternoon snack of Moon Pies and Cheetos. 
In my message Progress Report: Blowing A Still  at LifeSpring Church, I shared the BIG IDEA: Continuous steps in the right direction will get us to the right place over time.  This Big Idea is also known as “A PLAN”.
Periodically we need to “Blow A Still” in our lives and review our PLAN and our PROGRESS in working the PLAN.  (Blowing a Still is an old maritime expression still used in the Navy that calls for sailors undivided attention while pausing what they are doing and reflecting on (1) what am I doing, (2) what should I be doing (3) what adjustments do I need to make next (4) redeploy to that activity at the next strategic opportunity).
So, what would happen if Christians, the followers of Jesus, were to regularly “Blow a Still” in their spiritual lives and give themselves a PROGRESS REPORT on how well they are living out their PLAN to do the Great Commandment and Great Commission Jesus asks of us.
The Great Commandment Matthew 2:37-40
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The Great Commission Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
A Christian PROGRESS REPORT should contain
1)             Honest ASSESSMENT of your progress (answering the question “What am I doing?)
2)             Recast the VISION (answering the question “What am I suppose to be doing?)
3)             Course ADJUSTMENTS (answering the question “What do I need to change and do next?)
4)             Start to REDEPLOY (Begin again at the next strategic activity with your adjusted plan)
 Next week I will talk more of specifics you and I can do to help us improve our PLAN as well as systems and motivation to live into that PLAN.