Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Build-Your-Own-World Games

You've seen them - all those games out there where you build your own world, farm, amusement park, zoo, etc.

You usually begin with a blank slate, then start adding landscaping, buildings, furniture, animals and more. You keep improving your world until you put the last piece in place and consider it perfect.

Some may think that God created the world like that. He began with a blank slate then added the heavens and earth, sky, then dry land, plant life, heavenly bodies, sun, moon & stars...then he stood back and said, "Hmmm...what else would look cool here."

So he added all sorts of fish, birds and flying insects and after that all the creatures that live on dry land. He game all of them the ability to reproduce.

Once again he stood back and wondered what more he could add to his world. Maybe something in his own image that could talk, reason, he created man and plunked him down as the finishing touch of his masterpiece and called it all good.


Ephesians 1:4 says...

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. (MSG)
 God didn't create us to inhabit the Earth...He designed the Earth to sustain us - because he had already conceived us in his mind as the focus of his love.

If that doesn't make you feel special, I don't know what will.

Next time you take a look at the world around you, mountains, oceans, flowers, animals, plants that grow food - take a moment to consider that all that was placed here to sustain your life because God loves you. You were not an afterthought in creation - you were the FIRST thought!

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Are you a fan or a follower?

photo credit: Scott Ableman via photopin cc
"My concern is that many of our churches in America have gone from being sanctuaries to becoming stadiums. And every week all the fans come to the stadium where they cheer for Jesus but have no interest in truly following him. The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren't actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them." (quote from Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman)*

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23

Salvation is free, but that doesn't mean it doesn't cost something.

It cost Jesus his very life, the surrendering of his human will to the will of the Father. It cost him time as he ministered to the throngs that followed him day and sleep as he prayed through many a night. It cost him acceptance - the religious leaders scorned him and the secular leaders plotted his demise. It meant giving his all for those who would reject him and ridicule him . Yes, it cost him plenty, but he was willing to pay the price for those who would believe and receive him, for those who would fall in love with him and enjoy a restored relationship with the Father through him.

And then he tells us that if we want to be his disciple (a Christ follower), we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow him.

Salvation is free, but being a Christ follower will cost us, just as it did Jesus. It will mean total surrender to his purposes for our lives, laying our will aside for his will. Ministering to others who may or may not appreciate it. Sharing the message of God's love even if it means that those who hear will ridicule us and toss the message back in our face. But we will sacrifice, and we'll do it for those who will hear and receive the message and invite Christ into their lives. For those who will then carry the message to others, that they will come to know forgiveness and restoration through Christ.

Surrender - that word has come to have a negative connotation today. Giving up, giving in, defeat, failure, but that's not what happens when we surrender to God. We lose nothing when we surrender to Him...and we gain everything. Doing life our way usually ends in despair and destruction. Surrendering to the One who love us immeasurably and has wonderful plans for our lives can never be a bad thing. It brings freedom, confidence, peace, joy and strength through the hard times in life.

We're never alone when we walk with Christ, so let this be the day when you surrender to the One who created you to the One who gives purpose and meaning to your life. Surrender and walk in freedom.

How? Simply pray (talk to God) and let Him know that you are His for life.

God is not looking for fans...He's looking for followers. Men and women that will humble themselves and seek His face. Fall in love with him. Surrender their lives, then allow God to use them to reach others.

Is that you?

Are you a fan or a follower?

*Recommended reading:
Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus
by Kyle Idleman

Are you a follower of Jesus? Don't answer too quickly. In fact, you may want to read this book before you answer at all. Consider it a 'Define the Relationship' conversation to determine exactly where you stand. You may indeed be a passionate, fully devoted follower of Jesus. Or, you may be just a fan who admires Jesus but isn't ready to let him cramp your style. Then again, maybe you're not into Jesus, period. In any case, don't take the question---Are you a follower of Jesus?---lightly. Some people don't know what they've said yes to and other people don't realize what they've said no to, says Pastor Kyle Idleman. But Jesus is ready to clearly define the relationship he wants with his followers. Not a Fan calls you to consider the demands and rewards of being a true disciple. With frankness sprinkled with humor, Idleman invites you to live the way Jesus lived, love the way he loved, pray the way he prayed, and never give up living for the One who gave his all for you.

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