Archive for November, 2008
You may notice that the time of day for this post is way too early. No, it’s not because I’m such a devout person and wake up every day at 4am to pursue every spiritual discipline before the rest of the world is even awake. It’s actually because I had a crazy dream, woke up, and my mind started racing. I’m going to feel the pain around 3pm, as I’m a person who really needs a good chunk of sleep to keep going strong.
Have you ever wondered why God created us to sleep? He could have made us without this need. In John Piper’s short article, “A Brief Theology of Sleep,” he includes this as one of the reasons:
Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God. “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). But Israel will. For we are not God. Once a day God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this disease God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day. How humiliating to the self-made corporate executive that he has to give up all control and become as limp as a suckling infant every day.
I came across this video and thought that it was spot on (and pretty funny too).
I recently listened to a fascinating talk by Greg Hawkins, the executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. The talk was from last year’s Exponential Conference and it’s him explaining the findings from the REVEAL report. This report was based on research that Hawkins’ team conducted to try to determine which spiritual activities and practices were catalytic toward spiritual growth. It’s definitely worth listening to.
The results of the research aren’t shocking, but one thing that stuck out to me was that at every stage of spiritual development, risk is a key component of spiritual growth. Those who keep risking and keep stepping just one step beyond where they feel comfortable are those who keep growing. I think it’s because when we risk we are forced to trust God even more and we get the blessing of seeing him provide the help we need.
I’m seeing this big time in our launch team. As people are stepping out in faith in ways that stretch them, they are growing by leaps and bounds. It’s very exciting.
So…What risk do you need to take as a catalyst towards your next burst of spiritual growth?
I came across these four truths from Nelson Searcy, a pastor in New York City that does a podcast that I listen to. These are basic ideas, but very important.
1. God is in charge.
God is still on the throne and He is not shaken by the economic uncertainties of life (or any other uncertainties for that matter). He still offers hope to those who trust in him.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” – Hebrews 12:28
2. God will give you peace if you call on him.
Turn off the anxiety-producing news reports and open the Good News of God’s Word. Spend some time reading your Bible and praying each day. And remember this promise:
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
3. God will give you all you need if you put him first.
While it’s tempting to ‘take control’ of our finances when the future is uncertain, let me challenge you to do the opposite. Give control of your finances to God and put him first. If you do, he will give you all you need.
“God will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” – Matthew 6:33
4. God might use you more in a time of crisis than in calm.
While none of us would have wished for this time of difficulty, there is an opportunity for us, as God’s people, to model to the world that our faith is not just a ‘sunny day faith.’ Throughout the ages, it has been during times of crisis that Christianity and God’s people have had the most impact. Let me challenge you to model with your life and lips the 3 truths above and put feet to your faith by:
- being a person of generosity while everyone else is hoarding (John 3:16);
- being consistent in faith while others are fearing (2 Timothy 1:7);
- showing great love and concern for your friends and inviting them with you to The Journey so they too can find hope (1 Peter 2:12).
I think these are great thoughts and worth listening to. May this be a time when God’s people stand out as people of faith whose security is in him.
For the past 30+ years, John MacArthur has faithfully pastored Grace Community Church and boldly proclaimed God’s word. Thousands of people have been blessed by MacArthur’s ministry and (finally!) his sermons are available online FREE.
If you want to hear solid, hard-hitting, unapologetic Bible teaching, you’ll want to explore these sermons.
Do you have a favorite MacArthur sermon? If so, recommend it to us! One of my favorites is his “Tale of Two Sons.”
I am very excited to see what happens with today’s election. It’s hard to believe (and quite nice) that it’s finally coming to an end. I think it’s important to remember that, no matter what happens or whether your candidate wins, God is on the throne and our hope is in him.
I think it will help remind you that God’s Kingdom is not of this world.
Each of us is living for something. We each have something that motivates us and drives us. This could also be described as your identity. What makes you who you are? What defines you?
In his excellent book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller makes the point that the essence of sin is basing your identity on anything but God. In the “Notes” section of the book he gives some great examples of how centering your life on other things will destroy you (pp. 275-276). I’d encourage you to read the list, look for these idolatrous identities in your own life, and repent if necessary.
- If you center your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person’s problems will be overwhelming to you.
- If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you.
- If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.
- If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.
- If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the “escape strategies” by which you avoid the hardness of life.
- If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend.
- If you center your life and identity on a “noble cause,” you will divide the world into “good” and “bad” and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.
- If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don’t live up to your standards your guilt will be utterly devastating.
May we be people who center our lives on the love and grace of Jesus Christ for us!