Archives For change

Well, this is the very last day of the year 2009. I hope you have taken the time to look back over the last year and evaluate how you are different this year compared to last year at this time. That could be good or bad depending on the changes you made in your life. If you are different, it is because you chose to be different in one area or another. If you chose to do good in your life, you reaped good results. If you chose to do bad things, you had to face the consequences of that.

We are the product of our choices, good and bad. We should not try to blame shift or point fingers for our actions. We did them, and we have to face the consequences of those choices. When we choose a path, that path will lead us where it goes. If we want to end up in a good spot, we have to choose a good path to follow. (Of course, I believe the right path to take is clearly outlined in the Bible, and is found in being a Christ follower)

The path we choose to take is based on the priorities we set up in our life. If you want to have a great family, you cannot constantly ignore them and not invest time into them. If you want to be successful at work, you have to be a diligent and ethical worker. If you want to be a Godly, spiritual individual, you have to spend time with God by doing the spiritual disciplines (reading your Bible, praying, attending church, serving others, etc.).

Choose the path that will take you where you want to go, not a path that seems most convenient, more fun or just is plain easy to choose. If you want to grow spiritually this year, you have to choose to do so, and then walk the path that will get you there. We all have next steps towards God. They are different from one another, and no one else can make you take that next step. It has to be a priority in your life. So this year, will you live a life that is lived on purpose, or will you live a life that just happens along the way. The path you take is up to you and the priorities you set in life. Choose wisely!

Yesterday I said that I think the single most important thing you can do to change your life is to read your Bible.  I believe that with all of my being, so if you only make one change, read your Bible. When you read your Bible, it will change you.  It will motivate you to take next steps in your relationship with Christ and with others.  Others is what I want to talk about today.

If you want to see your life change, get involved in serving others. Volunteer to serve in a ministry through your church or at a local shelter or food bank. Make it a priority in your life to be Jesus to someone.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in the things that are going on in our life that we start to think that everything is about us… well guess what, it isn’t!  There are so many people that are out there hurting and just longing for someone to love them with the love of God.  It will be uncomfortable and inconvenient at first. Giving part of yourself away always is.  The rewards though far exceed the temporary inconvenience.

This is part of what being in a local church is all about.  Serving together, meeting the needs of one another and reaching out to those outside of the church are all ways for us to communicate the love of God to others. If we want to be fulfilled in our own life, it has to include serving others.  Our 41st President, George Bush, said,

“…any definition of a successful life must include serving others.”

May we make it a priority in the next year to take time out for others.

Philippians 2:3 “Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves.”

At this time of year, most people are thinking a lot about changes they will make next year.  I always love the start of a new year.  The new challenges and opportunities excite me and allow me to grow and hopefully do things better. There are all kinds of changes to be made, whether it be physically, emotionally, relationally or spiritually. I think every one of those areas needs a good evaluation so that we are not fooled into thinking we are better off than what we are. That brings me to the biggest and most life-changing thing you can do to make changes in your life, and really, the reason for this post.

It is easy to have a desire to change.  We all have good intentions.  But, good intentions are at best, good intentions unless acted upon.  Do you want to change your life?  Do you want to make changes that will stick? Then here is the single biggest thing you can do: read your Bible. It holds the answers to life.  It is the road map that God has given us to make great change… change that will last. Do you want to know God better?  Read His Word!  There is nothing  that will change you more than that!

To help you, Lifechurch.tv has a great web-based Bible reader that has many versions to choose from, called YouVersion.com.  They also have several different reading plans that will help you to keep on track for the next year.  You can choose plans that will last an entire year, a few months or customize your own plan.  It is a great tool to help you as get into God’s Word.  There are other options on the web, in book stores and even likely at your church that you can get a hold of and get started.  It doesn’t matter what you use, just do something!

If you could only make one change for the year, this would be the one: read God’s Word!  More tomorrow…

I was going through my Evernote notebook clips last night and came across a quote that I found on a blog a couple of years ago:

“The greatest opposition to what God is doing today comes from those who were on the cutting edge of what God was doing yesterday.”
– R.T. Kendall, pastor of Westminster Chapel

This had two implications for me:

  1. A lot of the people that I was taught to revere and respect as I was growing up were actually fairly progressive in their approach to ministry (for their time). What they did may not be considered progressive today, but it was then!  In fact, today most churches have been there and done the things that were considered progressive back then.
  2. I am still just under 40, but I never want to be the opposition to God’s moving in this (or any) generation.  Who has the right to say that God was done working in the 50’s. 60’s or 70’s?  Who has the right to say that the 90’s Praise and Worship music was the ultimate sound that God wanted.  None of us do.  We need to allow God to work today just as He did in those decades.  Creativity did not reach its pinnacle. Evangelism and preaching did not reach its final end.  Things continue to progress. Things continue to change.  They will until Christ returns.  In fact, we will even sing a “New Song” in heaven.  Some of you will not like that song either!

Ctlyst

Take-away #5 from Chuck Swindoll

“You will have people that worship you and those that criticize you.  Neither deserve much of your time.”

  • The first thing I thought of was a statement I heard in my first ministry; “Praise is like perfume, it smells nice, but you don’t want to drink it!”
  • Praise from people is something we all like to hear, but none of us like to admit.  It is good to get a pat on the back once and a while.  We all need that, and as a leader, I should make sure that I do that regularly.  But, the end results of the day are not how many atta-boys we get, but how many lives are changed.  That is all that matters.  How well we did or did not do is of no consequence.
  • That does not excuse proper preparation.  We need to prepare as if it is the last message we will ever speak or sing.  But the results are up to God, not us.
  • The praise of man can be dangerous, almost intoxicating.  But it means nothing if we are not speaking what God tells us to speak.  We should never prepare a message for the atta-boys!  We should prepare it for life change in people.
  • In the same way, criticism can not the strength out of you.  It can take away any motivation that you have to serve people and make you think that you are making no difference or very little impact for the Kingdom.
  • The difference in critiquing and criticism is this: criticism is based on a preference that someone has and a motivation to make you what that person wants; critiquing is a desire to see someone succeed and become what God wants you to be.  Getting advice and counsel from people is wise.  The wisest man to ever live wrote a lot about getting counsel.
  • We must be careful that we do not base ministry direction on the criticism of people.  We must do what God calls us to do.  It is HIS church, not the critics. (That does not discount wise counsel, but wise counsel does NOT come from someone who constantly criticizes, no matter how much they may give or how much influence they may have.)
  • At the end of the day, we have to answer for our obedience to God’s plan for our life, not the critics plan and not the plan of the person who constantly praises us.