Northside Christian's Blog

content that is linked from Facebook and Twitter

A Light Shining in a Dark Place

February 26, 2010

A few year ago, okay many years ago, when I was eight, my brothers and I on many summer nights would try to convince my mom or dad to allow us to stay outside when it was dark. Oh, how cool and sometimes a little scary to be out. My brothers and I would go around looking for the lighting bugs that appeared to be floating just in the middle of blank black canvass. We often caught them, placed them in a jar with holes in the lid, only to awaken the next morning to their being gone. Our dismay turned into our exploration on how they light up, and many nights walking inside with glowing fingertips to be immediately told to wash our hands. We also tried nighttime wiffelball, pretty much to see who could get a hit without being hit. One night, during a game, we found it. The fireworks that happened when a lighting bug was struck with the plastic bat was amazing. As I remember to the streaks through the dark sky, for an eight year old boy it was like gong to the fireworks and the sky was bright and beautiful. The light was beautiful and as I remember, you really could not see much but it felt like the whole back yard was a glow, the imagination of an eight year old.

We have a light that is before us, it is here to give us understanding. 2 Peter 1:19 “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” I strive to let the light of the Word light my life and not just look for the moments of light that happen throughout the sky. God has given the word to be the light that carries us through the day. It will pierce the darkness and give us the ability to see and to be seen. Are we seen as a light in the world with out the Word of God? Do we study the Word to release the light for us? Are we waiting to occasionally strike a lightning bug moment to see who God is in our life? We need to not rely on the moments we see God to brighten our day, but the light that will flow out of the open word of God.

We need to let the Word shine in our lives so it can light up around us and show us the path to take. We can not always see the light that others see in us but the Word will always be a light that will guide us. Let the light out and let it show you what He wants from you. He has an amazing love for you and you need to daily look for what He has to say. Letting His Word show you will allow you to show Him in this dark world. Live your life out loud.

Love ya,

Mark

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | 3 Comments

Hard Questions The Church Is Asking (1 of 7)

February 24, 2010

How come the person I’ve been praying to come close to God all these years still seems so far away from Him?

First, know that our primary responsibility is to witness to God’s grace and activity in us. Too often we believe that we are the ones responsible for converting people. We don’t convert people to Christianity; God does. But God, in His divine wisdom, has called us to join Him in this exciting, yet stressful endeavor. We share God’s work in our lives with people. We testify about our journey and God’s faithfulness along the way. We try to answer questions our friends and family have about God and faith. We are tools used by Him. We have a real part to play, but God brings about the change of heart.

Second, don’t assume that the people you are witnessing to and praying for aren’t responding at all. I am a very impatient person. If I were a farmer, I would stand in my field and yell at the seed to grow. God’s spirit works differently. God does work that we cannot see and people are responding in ways that we cannot always recognize. I am consistently amazed when people tell me about the “secret-to-me” growth they are experiencing (You would think I would learn!). Something might be happening that you cannot see. Maybe they are not fully aware of God’s work on their unbelieving heart. I have heard it said that people need to hear the gospel at least seven times before they respond.

Lastly, don’t quit. God hasn’t given up on them so you shouldn’t either. Talk with someone else about how you have be a stronger witness. Evangelism should never be done alone. It’s a comforting thing to know that you are praying hard for your friend. Maybe someone else could help you lead them to become a follower of Jesus. Seek a mature follower of Jesus to join you in praying for and leading your friend to Jesus (it’s a reason why we have small groups in the church).

Keep praying for God to work in their lives. Pray that God would continue to use you to speak the truth and to love them genuinely from the heart. Trust God in everything. Wait patiently. I know this – there is no formula. As you struggle through this you should also be aware that God is working on you too.

Have you tried taking them to Panera? It’s worth a shot, right? I have had some great conversations there!

Zach

February 24, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 1 Comment

A Good Buffet Anyone?

February 23, 2010

Have you ever been to a really good buffet?  Do you like buffets  I like buffets!  I may even like them too well!  J  I could have the tendency to eat too much!  They give me the opportunity to eat obnoxious amounts of delicious foods.   It’s the kind of restaurant where everyone can get what they want. They can go down the line and pick and choose … Mexican food, Seafood, Chinese, Italian, good old American. You can try something new, and if you don’t like it … set it aside and go back for something else…

That’s great when you’re eating out (except that you may over-eat trying to get your money’s worth). But it doesn’t work so well when you take the buffet approach to your belief system. A lot of people think of “religion” as a kind of smorgasbord. They take a little of what Buddha said over here and try out some of what Mahatma Gandhi said over there with a little Jesus sprinkled over it and some Scientology sauce on the side. And for dessert they try some Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura or a little bit of Oprah sprinkled on top. If it all tastes good, they keep it … and they’ve put together their own buffet of life. The best part is, if they lose their taste for any part of it, they can set it aside and try something else.

The only problem is: the Bible doesn’t offer a Buffet. God isn’t a buffet kind of God. The Bible presents ONE God and ONE way to be saved.  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6 (NIV)

So I like buffets!  I will probably always be tempted by them!  I like what they have to offer!  I may even see you in a buffet from time to time.  However, because I believe in Jesus Christ and what He teaches in the Scriptures, I have no option to include anything else for my salvation.  Christ alone is my rock, my fortress and my salvation!  And by the way, that’s exactly what you’ll find taught at Northside Christian Church!

Robin

February 23, 2010 Posted by | Robin | | 4 Comments

Layers

February 19, 2010

A few years ago I drove a bus from Tennessee to Piedras Negras, Mexico to transport a Missions team to the field for a week. As the week started, I worked alongside with men and women that I had just met which was a great experience for me. As the week progressed, there was one group that was assigned to prepare a foundation for a new home. As this group worked in the 90 plus degree temperatures, they struggled to dig an approximately 25 x 35 foot area four inches deep. Armed with shovels, picks, rakes, and gloved hands they started the work. The missions team said the concrete would be poured on Saturday. This should be easy since it’s only Monday. As they scraped along the ground, the picks would bounce back as if the ground was already concrete. It was a long process and even with a depth so shallow to obtain those who volunteered were unpleasantly surprised that it took until Saturday morning to finish the dig. Layers were peeled back ever so slowly, it was time and energy consuming project. As the next layer was exposed, the process had to be repeated over and over and over again.

This layering process is very similar to the life that we live right now. As we grow in our lives with Him we will need to chisel away a new layer and pull away the debris. Understanding that for us to grow we need to dig through areas in our lives that are keeping us from living completely for Him. As we expose a new layer we will need to understand it will take more and more energy to expose the next layer. This ultimately will cause frustration, vulnerability, pain, and exhaustion. Just imagine this work being done on a 100 degree day. Truly what we are removing is the stuff that keeps us from God and His Son.

We often rationalize that the sin in our lives is insignificant and that it is not that important. Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” I know that literally I may not sin the most, but as the layers in my life have been exposed, I see that that stuff is harder to remove and is magnified more than what I saw when I was 16. When I first accepted and was baptized, I saw the sin that was keeping me from Him; it was relevant, loose and easy to remove like a blanket. Now 20 plus years later God and I have to really scrape and dig to get rid of it. Paul is not the biggest sinner, he just got close enough to God to see the sin that was deep and close to Him was the strongest and hardest to remove. So the more Paul saw his sin is when he really understood his desire to be in the presence of God. God has the tools ready for you, pick them up and be ready to work along side Him in your life.

Live your life out loud.

Love,

Mark A Williams

Minister of Involvement

February 19, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | 1 Comment

Desires Come in Four Flavors (now serving all four flavors)

February 17, 2010

And now for our last desire to discuss: Physical Desires (dun, dun, DUN!!!!)

Because your body was made by God, you also have appetites for things to eat, drink, touch and see – physical desires. The Old Testament is filled with commands for God’s people to feast, eat, drink, celebrate, sing, dance, shout, and make music – all things we do with our bodies. These appetites, these desires, can become a way of remembering how good our God is and can lead us to become more joy-filled people.

God loves it when you enjoy stretching or training your body in new skills, or when you enjoy what your eyes see, your ears hear, your mouth tastes, and your skin feels. The physical is not separate from the spiritual. It is the Spirit that makes our bodies come to life.

Have you ever had the desire to by physically attractive to the world (I asked this at a small church once and no one raised their hand!)? The Bible teaches us that beauty of character trumps exterior beauty when it comes to God’s eyes, but he did create our physical bodies, so let’s get real for a moment.

Some stylists I heard of started what they called a “hairdressers ministry.” That sounded a bit odd to me because the only hairstylist I could think of in the Bible was Delilah, and that didn’t turn out so well. But serving people by cutting their hair is a good thing, and sometimes people will tell things to the person cutting their hair that they don’t tell anyone else.

This group of hairstylists began giving complimentary haircuts to physically and mentally challenged folks, and then traveled to Costa Rica to serve young women trying to escape a life of prostitution. The stylists cared for the physical body without wanting anything in return. They served bodies that had not been honored in years because the bodies had been turned into objects.

It is a good thing to eat food you love to eat (Chipotle), wear clothes you love to wear (white T-shirts), listen to music that makes you happy (the King of Pop), and then to thank God that He gave you your body so that you can see and hear and touch and laugh. Find out what gives you joy and thank God for it. Find out what brings you joy, and use it to bring someone closer to God.

Zach

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

Comfort Zone

February 16, 2010

I have been thinking about this for a while and have been prodded by others to write a weekly blog.  Well, I guess I’m here!  In the blogosphere that is. I have to admit I am writing it with some hesitancy, thinking my plate is already full and where will I find the time.  Another concern, was that this whole blog thing might just be a little out of my “comfort zone”.  However, in a recent sermon, I talked about “getting out of our comfort zone”.   How could I use that as an excuse?

I used the passage in Luke where Simon Peter had fished all night.  They had caught nothing.  They were ready to hang it up for the day, when Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”   . Luke 5:4-5 (NIV)

I can imagine Simon Peter and his partners were ready to call it a day. They had fished all night long and had caught not so much as a single little fish. They are tired, frustrated, discouraged, and defeated. The last thing any of them wants to do is go back out and fish some more. Yet, when Jesus tells Peter to do just that, he surrenders to the will of the Lord and goes out to fish.

Jesus told them to “put out a little deeper”.  That may be like telling us to go out a little farther and put out a little deeper.  Today we might say he is calling us to get out of our comfort zone.

What happens in the deeper water? It can be scary. It is more unstable.  It is at least more unfamiliar.   All of us, I believe could have the tendency to, just stay inside our comfort zone.  I believe we all should be challenged to step out of our comfort zone!

I experienced this in a recent Mission trip to Mexico.  I had the opportunity to take, as it were, a leap of faith!  I was challenged to “bungee jump”.  Now I wouldn’t say I have a fear of heights, but rather a healthy respect for heights.  I had worked and walked on a 12” ledge,   3 stories high just that week on the mission trip.  But there is something practical about thinking, “I don’t know if God has called me to jump off of a 16 story tower!

A few years ago – sitting at a table underneath Bungee, some of our group had gone up to bungee jump.  I can remember sitting there, as a leader of the group, knowing our people were going to jump and my palms were sweaty, just thinking about it. But this was the year to add it to my “bucket list” if I was ever going to do it!  I was cool, calm and collected.  Which I interpret that I didn’t  FREAK OUT!  My mind also went to the Scripture where Jesus says – “lo, I am with you always!”) I’m not thinking that included bungee jumping (or maybe riding in an airplane for some of you!)

For whatever reason this year, it was absolutely not a problem!  Of course, I was a little worried being in Mexico that they might think I was a huge piñata!  And I do have to admit that on the platform I did look at the cords to make sure they weren’t frayed!  After I was wrapped up and tied up with no place to go on the platform, but over the edge with the twinkling lights below.   Wait a minute – “What was I thinking?” But I had too much pride to back out!  I would have never lived that one down.  Yes, it would have been easier to die and go be with Jesus.  I took the plunge! And the trip was “exhilarating!”  WOW!  WHEW!

What happens in the deeper water? It can be scary because it is unfamiliar to us.  But when God is taking you there you can be assured that He will be there for you!  God’s commands are God’s enablements!   When Jesus meets us, He wants to take us from shallow faith to a deeper faith!  The only way we can do that is to “step out of our comfort zone”!

Simon get back out there to the deep water, get in over your head and lower your nets one more time. Even though you appear to have failed, try again, risk again, believe again, and work again.  Peter said, “At Your Word, I will try again.” When they let down their nets this time, they caught so many fish that their net broke and they had to call their partners to help them get the catch loaded into the boats.  What made the difference? Obedience to Jesus, even when Peter did not want to do what the Lord asked him to do!

So when Jesus says to us get back out there to the deep water, get in over your head and lower your nets one more time. Even though you appear to have failed, try again, risk again, believe again, and work again.  Step out in faith!  Step out of your “comfort zone” and see what God will do through you!

Robin

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Robin | | 3 Comments

Thirsty?

February 12, 2010

My youngest has a bunny and that bunny is often way to funny. As I walk past her she will run around, shake, and rattle the cage. She expresses her desire for attention, food, and occasionally water and as she makes herself known, I will try to take care of her needs. I noticed her desires the other day when I came home after hearing on the news that a 28 year old man had just been found alive in Haiti. I could only imagine what his desires were, what he had to go through, his thoughts, his frustration, his pain, and the struggle as he lost the energy from his body. My thoughts were that our bunny desires to have attention and to be fed, especially if she is not fed within a short amount of time. This poor man most likely did not have even enough energy to lift a glass, let alone for his body to be ready to accept it. You may not see the similarities between this Haitian and our bunny. The bunny desires her water but is not even dehydrated. The extremely dehydrated man was past the point of desiring water and was at the point of desperately needing its life giving hydration.

This reminded me of Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” This passage has always meant a lot to me but today I focused on the “My soul thirsts for God.” I have always seen my self as thirsting and desiring to be with my God. Do we wait to obtain a thirst or do we desire so we do not have to be thirsty? When do we really see the need for our Lord? We often seek Him the most when we need Him the most. Do you truly understand the thirst? Is your thirst truly longing for God? Just as our bunny simply desires to be loved, fed, and cared for, we too need to constantly seek and desire Him.

Thirst for Him! This thirst needs to be a desire that is lived out daily. Follow this up with Psalm 143:6 “I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.” Often in the beginning of my relationship with Him I would completely dehydrate myself only then to see my need for Him. To really long and desire Him is to approach Him with the mindset of being completely dehydrated and needing Him to give you life. Do not let yourself wait until you are truly spiritually dehydrated. We need to desire Him with the understanding that He wants our soul to seek Him. He wants to rescue you today so be ready for Him.

LYLOL

God Bless,
Mark A. Williams

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | 1 Comment

Desires Come in Four Flavors (now serving 3 of four flavors)

February 10, 2010

Relational Desires

In the Old Testament we read about the friendship between Jonathan and David. Even though Jonathan was heir to the throne, he voluntarily gave up power because he knew his friend David was God’s choice to be king. Jonathan wanted to be a friend more than he wanted to be a king. That is an unusual, unnatural choice when it comes to power. The humility and generosity of Jonathan is what made him famous. There have been countless kings whom nobody remembers (can you never name the last 10 Presidents?) – but Jonathan’s friendship with David has inspired the human race for thousands of years.

We all have relational desires, and maybe you hunger for deep relationships but you never really pursue them. You get too busy. If deep relationships don’t just fall into your lap, you give up. Deep relationships, however, don’t just fall into our lap. Jonathan had to overcome unbelievable barriers to build his friendship with David – and there is a chance you will, too, to build a friendship.

My friend David has the spiritual gift of breakfast. He meets people at a southern franchise called the Waffle House. The waitress loves to wait on him because he tips well and makes everyone laugh. He is both really funny and utterly unguarded about his own brokenness, which makes the people he meets with open up like tulips in the sun. He feels God’s presence most powerfully when he sits in the Waffle House and is allowed to connect with someone’s soul. It is not coffee that brings people to him; it is the desire to know others that flows out of him. When you desire to know others, that will flow out of your actions.

If you have the gift for hospitality, throw parties on a regular basis. The joy you feel when people are gathering and talk is flowing and laughter is resounding and new friendships are being forged all comes from God. If you need closer relationships, let us know – we’ll plug you into a community of believers who need you as much as you need them.

Zach

February 10, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

Happiness is Elusive

Happiness is Elusive, isn’t it?  How often have you thought, “If only I could find someone to truly love me, then I’d be happy.  If only I had that car, then I’d be satisfied.  If only I wasn’t under so much financial stress,  If only I could find another job…”  The “if onlys” are endless aren’t they?    Our culture has developed its own “conventional wisdom”.   By conventional wisdom I mean the current thinking of our culture on how to live, deal with others, and view the world itself. Most people navigate their way through life by this conventional wisdom. By it they know how to behave and they know their place in society.  They would say, “happy are the successful, the powerful, the rich, the famous, the aggressive, the self-reliant, the self-confident, the glamorous.”

Sometimes, I relate people chasing after happiness to eating cotton candy!  You put cotton candy into your mouth and for an instance there is sweet satisfaction, but it just disappears in your mouth doesn’t it?  (*It may re-appear on your hips, but it disintegrates in your mouth.)  It also doesn’t have any real nutritional value.  Many people are always searching for that “happiness” that is just out of their grasp.  They grab onto something thinking it will be what truly satisfies them only to discover that it doesn’t give any real lasting value.

Jesus taught a whole new way of life, a whole new way of thinking.  Jesus taught if you really want to be “happy” or “blessed”, it is sometimes quite the opposite of “conventional wisdom”.   What Jesus teaches seems like a “paradox”.  It seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses truth.  In Luke 5, He teaches his disciples saying:  20 …   “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.    Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.  22Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  23″Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

When was the last time you really lived like your life was a paradox?  When was the last time, we did something that might have seemed odd or “out of sorts” with the rest of the world.  Do we cave into peer pressure or do we march to the beat of a different drummer?  Who leads that procession in your life?  Jesus taught us to live differently by thinking differently.  You’re thinking affects your behavior.  Here’s the secret!  Renew your mind!     1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Roman 12:1,2) Memorize it! It’s a great verse!  Find that “happiness” and “blessing” that Jesus teaches about.

Robin

February 9, 2010 Posted by | Robin | | 1 Comment

Contempt?

February 5, 2010

How many law oriented shows are out there where we champion the lawyer or defendant to be in contempt of court for their belief, conviction, thoughts, knowledge, or just frustration with the system? Contempt defined by Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is “the act of despising, the state of mind of one who despises or a lack of respect or reverence for something.” There are so many times that I am sure we all have seen some form of contemptuous behavior. Now that you may have that thought in place, hold on to it. Last week I wrote “I can not imagine life without God, but so many times we don’t live a life for God,” now can this be called contempt?

In Numbers 14, God calls the actions of His people contemptuous. Let’s read verses 1-12: “That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites. The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”

How can the same people who witnessed all that God had provided to them so quickly become ungrateful and untrustworthy? Here we have a group of people that have physically seen the Almighty God do very amazing miracles to save them. (I have seen some pretty awesome God moments in my life that has created and increased my faith.) They saw Him bring them out of Egypt, get them through the plagues, split the Red Sea only to feel that God should have left them there, as slaves.

Our faith today is built on a relationship with our Lord; in Numbers we see that they saw God, not as their Savior or their Lord. They were not willing to live and do as He wanted even though His words were being spoken directly to them. If we were given the opportunity to have our faith generated and created by actual physical signs, how cool would that be, or not? Our faith is in Him, challenged to see where God is working in our lives. We have miraculous signs today; though they may not be as flashy and we often have to see where God is at through it all. Our faith is built on our decision to follow Him which is a choice of ours. It is also our choice to recognize His Lordship and live a life that is devoted to Him. We know that He deserves our best, but how do we keep from losing focus on who He truly is in our life? He is right there; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But, do we miss that He still desires for us to grow in our love for Him. We need to understand that our faith in Him is directly connected to how we live our lives for Him. We all need to grow, be accountable by someone, and to hold someone else accountable so all our focus is on Him. God has parted the seas in our lives, miracles have happened to get you where you are today. I tell my wife that I love her though I know that she never would have said “yes” if she would never have seen my love for her without seeing my commitments along the way. So how are you preparing yourself to “live your life out loud” for God, today?

Have a great weekend,

Love ya,

Mark A Williams

Minister of Involvement, Northside Christian Church

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | 1 Comment

Where is God in all our suffering?

February 4, 2010

Current events around the world and especially in Haiti cause many to stop and ask the question, “Where is God in all of this?”  Why if God is all powerful and really loves us does He allow suffering in this world we live in?  Many people point back to Genesis chapter 3 and blame Adam and Eve or free will for all our suffering.  Which to me seems entirely unfair to them, because even if they were able to avoid the temptation, which of  their children or grandchildren would not.  Who before us or including us is able to avoid such a temptation?  It certainly seems today that few people avoid much of anything.  So before we go blaming Adam and Eve, put yourself in their shoes and see how well you fare.

So let’s take a quick look at Genesis chapter 3 and see where suffering entered the world and find out where God is.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”  4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Well there you have it, free will.  They choose to disobey God because the temptation was just to great and will now suffer the consequences of their choice.

16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

After all that you would think that God would want nothing to do with them, but in reading verse 21, I for the first time figured out where God is.

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

God still cares.  God is still there for them to provide and protect, much as He is today.  Later on through Jesus, God provided the solution to this separation that they caused.  In reality, I mean a separation that we have all caused at one time or another.  So suffering entered the world.

Today we see much suffering and we also miss much suffering.  We see it in Haiti.  We see it the loss of lives to disease.  We see it choices of self destruction through drugs, alcohol, and violence.  We see it in divorce.  There are too many to list here, but you get the picture.  Where we miss it is in the lives of those dealing with a marriage that is falling apart and heading towards divorce.  This is especially painful in the lives of children and sometimes follows them into their adult lives affecting future relationships.  We miss it the lives of those suffering with disease and illness that are not readily visible to the unsuspecting observer.  Illnesses like Multiple sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Vertigo, and many others.  They don’t appear to have anything wrong with them, people will say.  We also miss it in the lives of those suffering from depression or other mental illness.  Again there are way to many to list here.

It would probably be very surprising to many of us to know just how many people who attend Northside each Sunday are in this group of silent sufferers.  But to look at many of them you could not tell it.  They serve in various ministries with a joyful heart, never complaining. To see some of them worshiping God, you would think that their lives were just about  perfect.  I would imagine that these are the very people that when they wake up each day know they have to continue to deal with the hand they were dealt, but their very next thoughts are to thank God for His many blessings.  They know it would be so much worse without Him.

These are the people that know where God is, in all this, He is right there, ready to provide and protect.  I can’t say I am personally in this category of silent sufferers, but I do know several people who are.  However if I were, I believe that 2 Corinthians 12:9 would be my verse.  I would own it.

9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If you find yourself in this group, trust in Jesus, his power is so much stronger than our own.

February 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Desires Come in Four Flavors (now serving 2 of 4 flavors)

February 3, 2010

Last week we learned about material desires (see article here)

This week we are going to discuss Desires of Achievement.

There have been few people in history more motivated by achievement than the apostle Paul. You think your pre-k kid was wired up all the time, Paul was constantly moving, teaching, building, and motivating. He described his life with metaphors such as “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race.” God didn’t take away Paul’s desire to achieve; rather he harnessed it so that Paul could serve others.

We all have desires to achieve things, because God created us to have dominion. You don’t think Adam felt great after naming the last animal? It’s a good thing to want to achieve.

Maybe you have a strong drive in your career. Maybe you are highly motivated by an opportunity to learn. Maybe you just love to accomplish. If your achievement desires are leading you to workaholism, to worshiping status, to neglecting time for prayer, or you’re using people in the process – then slow down buddy, your work needs redirection. But if that’s not the case – if you find yourself growing in God and there’s an inner fire inside you to achieve – go forth and achieve!

Use your ability and circumstances to achieve good for others. And when you are doing it – when you are contributing to a meeting, adding value to a team, or formulating ideas – you will know it is more than just you. As you have relational skills that enable you to bond with clients, you can simultaneously pray for them. Every now and then stop and thank God that you get to do your job, what you’re good at, for as you achieve and feel joy in doing so, you are opening up yourself to be used by His Spirit.

Zach

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 3 Comments