Yesterday, I had the opportunity of sharing in church; something that happens once or twice a year since I'm leading worship most of the time.
The message was about being "On the Mark" as if you were to begin a race. "On your mark" is a call to get into position for what you are about to do; "Get set" is a call to prepare yourself mentally and focus on your task; "Go" is the call to do what you have prepared yourself to do.
When runners are set out to run a race, they need to know where the mark is and where they are running to. They need to focus on the goal...getting to the finish line. And, to actually run the race, they cannot let the fear of failure or what people think prevent them from participating in the race.
The same is true in our Christian life. The Apostle Paul refers to our journey as a "race". In this race, we need to to where to begin, focus on the finish, and not be afraid of failing or what people think of us. We are not running for others, but instead for God.
Sunday, I focused on ourselves getting into position to run the race with these three (and not all inclusive) important points to consider:
1. We need to know our Position in Christ.
2. We need to know our Position in the Church.
3. We need to know our Position in the Community.
In Christ, we have a new and special Identity. Humans were created for a relationship with God. Things changed quickly once sin entered the world. Since then, we are all born into a broken relationship with our Heavenly Father. We need to be restored and accept the sacrifice of Christ because it is the only answer to restore that relationship (John 14:6). In Revelations 3:20, Christ says he is standing at the door (of our hearts) knocking. He wants to come in and commune with us. It's up to us to invite him in.
In Christ, we have (already) eternal life (1 John 5:11-13). We need to know our Identity in Christ. We need to know who we are. This is our starting line.
As part of the church, we are called to love one another (1 John 4:7; Romans 12:10). The vision statement of our church declares that each one of is a leader. We need to strive to be the leader God has called us to be in our families, churches, schools, communities, and world.
We need to know our position in the community and remember that we do not belong here (1 Peter 2:11), but are to be the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13,14).
Once we know where the starting line is, we can position ourselves on the mark and prepare ourselves mentally to do what God has called us to do.
Friday, April 24, 2015
A couple of days ago I was reading Proverbs 13. Verse four impacted me. I kept on reading the following verses, but my mind had stopped at verse four.
We've been talking about "Vision" in one of our Bible classes here in Cofradia. It is challenging us all to really dig deep, spend time with the Lord, and allow Him to speak to us about what impacts us and how we want to help meet specific needs that we see. We want to allow Him to give us vision for our life and ministry.
This has been something that I've been passionate about for a long time...helping others find purpose, help meet needs they see, and have vision for their life. So, it makes sense that Proverbs 13:4 stood out.
In the NIV, it says, "The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied." In my own words, I would say "Do nothing; expect nothing. Do something; expect something."
The sluggard who craves is the person that sees needs, but does not do anything about those needs. It's the person that has a vision, but is afraid to step out. On the contrary, the diligent person's vision will come to life because they are taking steps towards that vision. They see needs and they do what they can to help meet those needs.
The opposition--whatever reason that keeps people from stepping out--will sometimes manifest itself as discouragement. This discouragement could come from people or leaders in your past that have planted this seed through their words of criticism. Criticism can be constructive or destructive. To be constructive, it must come out of love and a willingness to invest. Otherwise, it can be very destructive. This destruction can cause discouragement down the road and prevent those who have a vision to take action. The enemy, Satan, will remind you of the criticism. He'll say that you are not fit or capable to carry out your plans (Nehemiah 4:1-3).
If your vision comes from God, your plans will succeed. Be diligent; don't lose heart. Keep the faith and vision the Lord has given you; "...the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied."
You can't expect something without doing something.
Discouragement will distract you from being diligent.
DO SOMETHING; EXPECT SOMETHING.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Chuy, Hugo and Goyo showed up on Tuesday morning and continued to look at Chapter 8 and focus on the passage of the blind man who receives his sight which I have already referred to in previous posts...
Three principles that we've pulled out of chapter eight regarding the revelation of truth are..
1. (vv.11-13) The Pharisees were blind and could not see the truth nor understand it because they were so involved in what they were doing. Sometimes we can be blinded by what we're involved in and miss the truth altogether.
2. (vv.14-21) The Disciples were blind to understanding what Jesus was saying because they were worried about not having bread. Sometimes we can be blinded by the distractions in our life or what is worrying us the most and we miss the truth.
3. (vv.31-33) Peter was getting it, but didn't understand fully who Jesus really is. He affirmed him as the Messiah (he knew that part of the truth), but was unable to understand what needed to happen because of the way he had been brought up with the Jewish traditions; the Teachers of the Law taught what they thought was right to the Jews and the disciples understood details about the Messiah through the Pharisees teachings. Sometimes we can be blinded by what we've been taught in the past and we miss the truth.
In our next meeting, we'll be looking at contrasts in chapters 9 and 10 of blindness (wrong way of thinking) and sight (the right way of thinking).
Also, what does it mean to "take up your cross"?
Friday, April 23, 2010
It's been a while since we've been able to consistently meet. There's been a lot of work for the guys and it's hard to find time in the mornings. Martin and Ruben were able to make it last Tuesday and we talked about Mark 8. I have touched on this already in a previous post.
What an interesting passage! A transitional chapter in the book were Jesus begins to speak a little more clearly to his disciples and the people. The time is coming soon when he'll be crucified, and he knows it. He wants to make sure the disciples know that they need to be carful of what the Pharisees have taught and continue to teach (13-21) and demonstrates how truth is revealed in our lives by healing a blind man (22-26).
Some of said that this passage has to do with healing and that God sometimes chooses to heal gradually. I don't deny that, but I do not believe that is the point of the passage. If we look at the context and what's happening to the disciples, we see their eyes being opened to who Jesus really is. Truth is being revealed to them in their lives. They get it and claim Jesus as the Messiah (27-30). However, they are not completely understanding because right after Peter claims Jesus to be the Messiah, Jesus is rebuking him for not having the right teaching..or mindset (he is thinking through what he has been taught by the Pharisees in the past along with all the other Jews on how the Messiah is "supposed" to come). Jesus says, "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man" (v. 33).
Truth is an interesting conversation nowadays. Not everyone believes in the same "truth." What was true for the Pharisees was true for them. That is the argument many take. However, you can believe something is true all you want, but it may not be truth! What traditions have you been taught and have grown up with? Is what you perceive to be true really truth? If your basis for truth is not in the Jesus Christ of the untampered Word of God, your "truth" may not be true.
May the Lord continue to reveal himself to us. Some say Christians are close-minded. I say Christians are open-minded towards allowing Christ to reveal himself to us. Jesus finishes the chapter sharply saying, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." We must be willing to give up our own "truth" in order to receive the real truth.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Hugo and I took another look at the passage about the Syrophoenician woman which Matthew calls the Canaanite woman. The phrase that we focused on was when the woman said, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs" in response to Jesus saying, "first let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
Jesus was referring to the Jews as the children and the "dogs" as Gentiles. The lady seemed to see that what the Jews were rejecting (blessings from Jesus-or Jesus himself), would be beneficial to her and her need. What she was grateful for and wanted, the Jews didn't.
We asked ourselves these questions, "Do I appreciate all the blessings that Jesus has given me?" "Do I take advantage of opportunities that he gives me to share with others?" "When Jesus blesses us with a gift, do we take care of that gift or let it waste away in a sense and forget it's value to us?"
The challenge to ourselves and even those reading this would be how do we take care of our possessions? How do we appreciate our wives/husbands? Do I back out of opportunities to share because of fear of failure or I'm embarrassed? If we don't appreciate the blessings and opportunities God gives us, they may be given over to someone else. It's true with our possessions, marriages, opportunities and talents. Hmm, time for self-examination.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The guys have been working a lot lately so they have not been able to come in the past couple of weeks.
As I continue to study Mark chapter 8, I see it becoming a transition in the book. It seems that the previous chapters have been working up to this moment. As you read the chapter, it starts with indirect teaching by Jesus, but using his surroundings to teach the truth. Then, right in the middle of the chapter is the progressive healing of the blind man. Then, it goes back to Jesus teaching them truth, but now it's direct. In a sense, he's showing that the Revelation of Truth is our lives is gradual; it's a process. Jesus waited until this point to speak directly into the lives of the disciples because he knew they probably wouldn't be able to accept it before. The chapter ends with one of the most direct explanations of what it means to really follow Jesus. It looks as if the Revelation of Truth is a process.
We'll continue to look at Mark 8 in the weeks to come, but this is a glimpse of what I've gathered so far.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Martin and Ruben came this morning even though it was raining. The coffee was really good! I'm becoming a huge fan of home roasted coffee!
It's interesting how these next two passages (24-30; 31-37) relate to what Jesus was just talking to the Pharisees about in the previous passage. Even though these accounts took place in a different region (Tyre; Decapolis) rather than Galilee, the story continues to have a certain flow to it...
In the first section (24-30), a Syro-Phoenician woman (Matthew calls her a Canaanite in his gospel account) approaches Jesus asking for healing for her daughter who was possessed by an evil spirit. He responds to her, "First let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Without being offended, she responds, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Jesus liked her answer, granted her request, and sent her home. She found her daughter lying in bed and the demon gone.
I have always struggled with two things in this passage. I have understood that Jesus is referring to the Jews when he says children and the bread is his message. But what bothers me is
1. Why did he call her a dog? and
2. How can I apply this passage to my own life?
The word he uses for dog here is our word for a female dog, which is not very kind to say the least when you address a woman that way. But, what I have learned is that he chose his words within the culture as a soft address; it was not a harsh sting and the offense is not as we would take it. She knew her position amongst the Jews (Jews considered all Gentiles dogs) and accepted that, but she defended herself as if she knew the Jews were not receiving what he had to offer--which was quite true. In previous passages, we see the Pharisees rejecting him and even the Nazarenes in his hometown did not accept him. So, she was ready to accept what the Jews had "thrown away." If Jesus used a certain tone of voice in his wise choice of culturally influenced words, this was an opportunity for the woman to receive a blessing from the Saviour.
How can I apply this to me? I have come to the conclusion that it speaks to me in a simple way. Be thankful for what the Lord has given me and done for me, what I reject will be given to others. Who am I in Christ? What are my gifts? Am I using what he has given me?
Another interesting thing about this passage is WHERE he was. Tyre was an important port that had a lot of business. They rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem because they would no longer have to compete against them in business (how many times do we do that?). Jesus was going to a place that the Isrealites did not conquer. The Canaanites were enemies of God and still held a residence in what belonged to Him. Jesus was not arriving amongst the "enemies" of God so much as he was entering a region that belonged to him. It was his inheritance. How many times do we see the Pharisees approaching "unclean" people (see the previous passage about their Heart Condition)? How many times do we still allow the enemy to reside in what belongs to Christ (our own life)?
The phrase that stood out to us in the next passage (31-37) was from verse 33. It says that Jesus "took (the deaf-mute man) aside, away from the crowd" and healed him. Why would he do that? Had it something to do with the fact that Jesus didn't want news about him to spread so quickly as he mentions in verse 36? Or was it that he had compassion on this man, more than likely a man full of low self-esteem. How do you feel when you do not understand (or hear in this man's case) when people are talking? This happens a lot in a foreign country when Americans come and speak in English to each other while a Spanish speaker is present. The Spanish speaker automatically assumes that the two (or more) English speakers are talking about him. Or how do we feel when there are a couple of people speaking really low when we are in the room? Doesn't the thought cross our mind that they might be talking about us? How much more a deaf man when he can see people talking, but not hear what they're saying...especially if there are certain facial expressions that could be mis-interpreted? It's highly possible that this man had some related issues and Jesus was simply taking account for this man's feelings.
What are your conclusions?